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USA Today this morning reports that ESL Investments, the hedge fund controlled by Sears Holdings CEO Edward Lampert, has said that “it had received ‘numerous’ inquiries from potential partners,” and has asked the retailer’s board of directors “for permission to ‘engage with’ potential partners "to allow us to put forward a definitive proposal that will result in the most benefit to Sears.”

According to the story, “The special committee previously placed limits on ESL working with partners as the hedge fund explores the potential purchase of Sears' real estate, Kenmore brand and other assets.” ESL, in fact, is said to be negotiating to acquire Kenmore - Sears’ longtime private label appliance brand - from Sears; Lampert has urged the company’s board to sell Kenmore, as well as its parts and home services businesses, in the same way that Sears sold its Craftsman tool brand last year to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million.
KC's View:
I know I’ve become irredeemably cynical on the subject of Sears, but I cannot help but feel that this is all about Lampert covering his assets as best he can, with very little thought about the long-term survival of Sears. Which I suppose is his job as the head of a hedge fund, but I’m getting tired of all the posturing about how this is all about finding a survival route for Sears and Kmart. At this point, it is like Sears Holdings has been placed in an Agony Booth (from Star Trek’s Mirror Universe) and is being subjected to extended torture and slow death.