Sears Liquidation May Begin Within Hours As $4.6 Billion Rescue Bid Unravels

Sears, which filed for bankruptcy in October, has less than 24 hours to survive.

The 125-year-old employer of more than 68,000 has one last shot at survival as it waits for a $4.6 billion rescue package by chairman Eddie Lampert to materialize, according to CNBCwhich adds that Lampert's ESL Investments has been the only party offering to buy Sears as a whole. 

Without Lampert's bid or another like it, the company will be broken up into pieces by liquidators. Unfortunately, the embattled chairman is running out of time

As of Thursday afternoon, Lampert had neither submitted his bid, nor rounded up financing, the people familiar said. Should Lampert submit a bid, Sears' advisors would have until Jan. 4 to decide whether he is a "qualified bidder." Only then, could ESL take part in an auction against liquidation bids on Jan. 14.

It is possible Lampert, Sears' largest investor, secures financing in time to meet the deadline, these people said. The hedge fund manager turned retailer has managed last-minute feats before. Due to requirements by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Lampert will be required to make his bid public. That stipulation that could sway him to prolong the filing until its exact deadline of 4:00 p.m. ET Friday. -CNBC

If the deadline passess, Sears and Kmart could both be liquidated within weeks, according to bankruptcy court guidelines - however that process has already slowly begun, as the retail icon weighs the closure of 50 to 80 more stores on top of the 142 unprofitable locations announced to be closing amid the October 15 bankruptcy filing. In November, 40 more store closures were announced. 

In short, there has been a slow-paced liquidation underway. 

Lampert reportedly planned to save Sears by combining it with Kmart - which ESL bought out of bankruptcy after its 2002 filing, however the cultures of both stores were too different to make the integration successful as cross-selling agreements between Sears' appliances and Kmart's apparel was a dud. 

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