It was just a matter of time before the mystery surrounding money manager Edward Lampert’s true interests in Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Kmart Holding Corp. was revealed.
Lampert, chairman, chief executive officer and founder of the $9 billion, Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund ESL Investments Inc., has at times been called the next Warren Buffett. Lampert, the former chairman of Kmart, now becomes chairman of the newly formed Sears Holdings.
For nearly two years, it had been speculated by many in the retail industry that Lampert, 42, was up to something with ESL’s growing stake in Kmart Holdings, which eventually swelled to over 50 percent, as well as its roughly 15 percent stake in Sears.
Lampert is credited with helping bail Kmart Holdings out of bankruptcy in May 2003. The renewed discount retailer eventually became profitable in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003, even as same-store sales have remained in negative territory.
ESL also holds stakes in retailers such as AutoZone Inc., AutoNation Inc. and telecom company MCI. Lampert generally searches for undervalued companies but his firm’s other clients reportedly range from media mogul David Geffen to Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Inc.
Lampert has an interesting recent past as well. He was kidnapped in January 2003 and held at gunpoint at a Days Inn Motel in Hamden, Conn., by four men. The men tried to extort money from Lampert and ESL Investments, according to the District of Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, but Lampert was released after a couple of days by promising to leave about $40,000 in cash for the abductors several days later in a trash can in a Wendy’s restaurant in Greenwich.
With the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, all of men involved in Lampert’s kidnapping were eventually found and pleaded guilty to charges of kidnapping and robbery with a firearm.
Prior to founding ESL in 1988, Lampert worked for investment bank Goldman, Sachs & Co., and he holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University.
Suggesting his motives for this latest deal, Lampert, who will also be part of a 10-member board of directors at Sears Holdings, said in a statement that “the merger will enable us to manage the businesses of Sears and Kmart to produce higher return than either company could achieve on its own.”
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)