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The Latest: Sears creditors challenge ESL’s winning bid

January 17, 2019
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FILE- In this Jan. 7, 2019, file photo a customer shops in a Sears store in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Sears confirmed Thursday, Jan. 17, that chairman and largest shareholder Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund has won tentative approval for a $5.2 billion plan to buy 425 stores and the rest of its assets. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on Sears bankruptcy auction (all times local):

5 p.m.

A group of Sears creditors are challenging Chairman Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund’s winning bid to buy the business in a bankruptcy auction and wants to sue the billionaire and his hedge fund.

That’s according to a court filing Thursday in which the creditors contend that Lampert has painted himself as the savior of the company, but has instead made a series of moves over the years that have benefited himself and his hedge fund ESL.

Sears confirmed early Thursday that ESL had won tentative approval for a $5.2 billion plan to buy 425 stores and the rest of the company’s assets, staving off a liquidation of the iconic brand.

The move would preserve 45,000 jobs, but it is still subject to approval by a bankruptcy judge on Feb. 1.

ESL says in a statement that all transactions were done in good faith and were also approved by the company’s board, including independent directors.

A spokesman for Sears Holding Corp. declined to comment.

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12:20 p.m.

Sears is confirming reports its chairman and largest shareholder Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund has won a bid to buy roughly 400 stores and other assets for $5.2 billion.

The move, announced Thursday, preserves 45,000 jobs and is subject to court approval on Feb. 1. Creditors will have the opportunity to object before then.

The deal will then close Feb. 8.

The agreement follows marathon negotiations that started early Monday as Lampert was fending off demands from creditors who were pushing for liquidation.

Lampert’s ESL Investments was the only one to put forth a proposal to rescue the floundering company in its entirety. He had sweetened his bid multiple times.

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