Sears stores to stay open after Lampert prevails in bankruptcy auction with a $5.2 billion bid

A customer enters a Sears Holdings Corp. store in San Bruno, California, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A customer enters a Sears Holdings Corp. store in San Bruno, California, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 28, 2018.

Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert prevailed in a bankruptcy auction for the U.S. department store chain with an improved takeover bid of roughly $5.2 billion (4.04 billion pounds), allowing the 126-year-old retailer to keep its doors open, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

Lampert's bid, boosted from an earlier $5 billion offer, prevailed after weeks of back-and-forth deliberations that culminated in a days-long bankruptcy auction held behind closed doors. The billionaire proposal, made through his hedge fund ESL Investments, will save up to 45,000 jobs and keep 425 stores open across the United States.

Lampert boosted his bid by adding more cash and assuming more liabilities, the sources said. The auction, held at the Manhattan offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, the law firm representing Sears, concluded in the early morning hours of Wednesday.

There remains a chance the deal could fall apart, as it still must be documented and approved by a U.S. bankruptcy judge. A hearing is expected to be scheduled for later this week.

A group of creditors is objecting to the deal, one of the sources said.

The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Spokespeople for Sears and ESL did not immediately return requests for comment.