U.S. bankruptcy judge approves sale of Sears to Chairman Lampert

NEW YORK Feb 7 (Reuters) - A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Thursday approved Sears Holdings Corp Chairman Edward Lampert's $5.2 billion takeover of the beleaguered retailer, allowing the department store chain to narrowly avert liquidation and preserve tens of thousands of jobs.

Judge Robert Drain approved the sale after a hearing spanning several days in a White Plains, N.Y., federal bankruptcy court. He overruled objections, including from an unsecured creditors committee. Those creditors, including vendors and landlords, argued they would fare better in a liquidation and that the process for selling Sears was unfair.

Lampert, the only bidder offering to keep Sears alive through his hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc, agreed to a deal for 425 stores after round-the-clock negotiations in January. The takeover aims to preserve about 45,000 jobs.

(Reporting by Mike Spector and Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)