As Sears Holdings Corp. more aggressively pursues options for deleveraging its balance sheet against the risk of a bankruptcy filing, the company has added Alan J. Carr, a restructuring expert, to its board.
Carr is chief executive officer of Drivetrain Advisors, which provides restructuring services to the distressed investment community. He is also the chairman of the board of Kaupthing Bank. He has experience as an investor and adviser leading complex financial restructurings, and has served as a director of reorganized businesses in the U.S. and Europe. He was previously an attorney at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and at Ravin, Sarasohn, Baumgarten, Fisch & Rosen. According to his LinkedIn profile, his specialty at both law firms was in corporate restructuring.
Edward S. Lampert, chairman and ceo of Sears, said, “Alan brings deep experience as a director for companies that went through complex organizational change. We are pleased to welcome him to the board and look forward to the benefit of his expertise as we work to maximize value for the company and its stakeholders.”
Last week, Sears posted an update list of store closings. The update list included seven more Sears stores and five additional Kmart locations. While most of the stores on the list are slated to shutter this month, the dozen stores just added are expected to close in November, before the start of the holiday selling season. The company has said all year that it would evaluate its store base on an ongoing basis as it moves to transform into an integrated business model that combines online with physical stores.
Lampert, as chairman of hedge fund ESL Investments, is also backing a bailout for Sears. The retailer is in the process of working on “liability management transactions” where ESL would acquire $1.47 billion in assets that include the Kenmore brand and the Sears home improvement and services businesses as part of a plan to eliminate $4.35 billion of Sears’ debt load.
Last month, Lampert raised the possibility of a bankruptcy filing when the company posted second-quarter earnings results. The company has $134 million in debt due on Oct. 15. Whether the proposed plan can actually help the company avoid a bankruptcy filing is debatable.
Credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings said last month that the proposals are “insufficient to avoid further restructuring.” Fitch cited ongoing liquidity needs as one reason. The rating agency estimated that, even if the proposed financial restructuring goes through, Sears would still have an annual liquidity need in “excess of $600 million.”