Sears Holdings Corp. said it has obtained a standby letter of credit facility.
The facility, provided by affiliates of ESL Investments, will allow Sears to request standby letters of credit in an initial amount of up to $200 million. The facility may be expanded by up to an additional $300 million at the request of the company and with the consent of the lenders.
According to Jason M. Hollar, Sears’ chief financial officer, “The new standby letter of credit facility further demonstrates that Sears Holdings has numerous options to finance our business strategy.”
This isn’t the first time that either ESL or its affiliates have bailed out Sears to keep the operations going.
Edward S. Lampert, Sears’ chairman, is also chairman of ESL Investments, a hedge fund that bailed Kmart Holding Corp. out of bankruptcy. Sears Holdings was formed when Lampert merged Kmart with Sears, Roebuck & Co.
Industry rumblings – including concerns by credit ratings agencies Fitch and Moody’s on Sears’ cash burn rate – have continued to talk about the potential demise of Sears, although the company has insisted that it has options that could keep the business in operation. In addition to financing transactions such as the standby letter of credit, Sears has said it also has assets it can monetize. It is still exploring alternatives for its Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands, its Sears Home Services business and what’s left in its real estate portfolio.
Sears ended its most recent quarter – its third quarter that ended Oct. 29 – with a net loss of $748 million, or $6.99 a dilutes share on a net revenue decline of 12.5 percent to $5.03 billion. At the end of the three-month period, Sears said it had $258 million cash, while short-term borrowings were $618 million. Merchandise inventories were $5 billion, while merchandise payables were $1.6 billion. Sears said at the time that it used about $1 billion of its $1.97 billion revolving credit facility, and the amount available to borrow was $174 million. Total long-term debt was $3.7 billion.