Sears Holdings filed for bankruptcy protection early Monday after years of staying afloat through financial maneuvering and relying on billions of CEO Eddie Lampert's own money. Lampert, who has served as CEO for the past five years, will step down from that post, effective immediately, but remain chairman.
The 125-year-old retailer, once the nation's largest, said Monday it was appointing Mohsin Meghji, managing partner of M-III Partners, as its chief restructuring officer.
As part of the bankruptcy, Sears will shutter 142 stores toward the end of the year. It expects to begin liquidation sales shortly.
The bankruptcy filing comes more than a decade after Lampert merged Sears and Kmart, hoping that forging together the two struggling discounters would create a more formidable competitor.
Over the years, Lampert shed Sears assets and spun out real estate to pay down the debt. The company still has roughly 700 stores, which have at times been barren, unstocked by vendors who have lost their trust. Many of the stores have never been visited by younger generations of shoppers.
Lampert, who has a controlling ownership stake in Sears, personally holds some 31 percent of its shares outstanding, according to FactSet. His hedge fund ESL Investments owns about 19 percent.
But even with the bankruptcy filing, Lampert continues to invest in Sears. The retailer said Monday morning ESL is negotiating a $300 million debtor-in-possession loan to support it through its bankruptcy. That loan comes on top of an additional $300 million it has secured from investment banks.