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(Reuters) – The once-mighty Sears department store chain took its fight for survival to a bankruptcy judge on Monday, arguing the proposed $5.2 billion sale to its chairman, Eddie Lampert, would help save 45,000 jobs and keep 425 stores open. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain said on Monday he would rule on the sale to Lampert’s ESL Investments Inc later this week after hearings that were likely to run into Thursday. A lawyer for Sears Holdings Corp told the court he was hoping the deal would close on Friday, clearing the way for Sears to end its four-month stint in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and begin its new life as a private company controlled by Lampert custom engraved cufflinks.
But first the company has to overcome objections by hundreds of creditors and the official committee that represents them. Monday’s hearing in White Plains, New York, kicked off with Sears’ investment banker, Brandon Aebersold of Lazard, and Sears director Bill Transier testifying about sale negotiations and Lampert’s plans custom engraved cufflinks. Transier acknowledged that Lampert’s plan included possibly three store closings a month this year, the sale of $600 million of real estate over the next three years and unspecified cuts to staff..
“Their ability to run their business properly should be their responsibility,” he said. Creditors have argued the company’s future success is premised on what they say is an unlikely turnaround led by Lampert, who creditors have accused of stripping the company of value during its years-long decline. Creditors also have argued the sale process was flawed and that it undervalued Sears by as much as $1.3 billion custom engraved cufflinks. Creditors want to pursue ESL and Lampert, Sears’ largest shareholder and creditor when it filed for bankruptcy, for what they allege are years of fraudulent deals, such as the spin-off of the Lands End brand..
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – General Motors Co on Monday said it was starting to hand pink slips to about 4,000 salaried workers in the latest round of a restructuring announced in late November that will ultimately shrink its white-collar workforce in North America by 15 percent out of 54,000 custom engraved cufflinks. Two people briefed on the cuts said GM is cutting hundreds of jobs at its information technology centers in Texas, Georgia, Arizona and Michigan and more than 1,000 jobs at its Warren, Michigan Tech Center. GM is filing new required mass layoff notices with state agencies and disclosed the cuts to lawmakers..
The largest U.S custom engraved cufflinks. automaker announced in November it would cut a total of about 15,000 jobs and end production at five North American plants. The cuts include eliminating about 8,000 salaried workers, or about 15 percent. GM cut about 1,500 contract workers in December and said 2,300 salaried workers accepted buyouts, officials said. “These actions are necessary to secure the future of the company, including preserving thousands of jobs in the U.S. and globally. We are taking action now while the overall economy and job market are strong, increasing the ability of impacted employees to continue to advance in their careers, should they choose to do so,” GM spokesman Pat Morrissey said, adding the bulk of the cuts should be completed in the next two weeks..