Sears has formed a special committee of board members to formally weigh chairman/CEO Eddie Lampert’s offer to buy the company’s Kenmore business.
Lampert, who holds a majority position in Sears through his ESL Investments hedge fund, also proposed purchasing Sears’ remaining real estate and two units within its Home Services division.
Besides evaluating Lampert’s proposals, the committee is also tasked with actively soliciting outside bids and exploring “any other alternatives” that could maximize the value of the assets.
The move was prompted by an April 20th letter from ESL which implored the board to sell the properties, either to Lampert or outside buyers, to avoid any further deterioration in their value.
“The portfolio of Sears’ assets has substantial value that is not being reflected in the capital markets or being maximized under the current organizational structure,” ESL wrote.
Sears has been down this road before, having made multiple stabs at monetizing its iconic Kenmore appliance brand and Home Services businesses through partnerships, joint ventures, licensing arrangements or outright sales. In 2016 it hired Citigroup and LionTree Advisors to help it weight its options, and last year succeeded in offloading its Craftsman tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker in a combination sales and licensing deal valued at $900 million.
This time around the committee has retained investment bank Centerview Partners to help Sears pitch its assets and explore alternatives, and asked that all inquiries from potential third-party purchasers be directed to the New York-based firm.