Sears Takes Further ‘Financial Flexibility’ Steps

The struggling retailer gets more time to pay off a $400 million loan and expects to obtain a new secured credit facility.
Matthew HellerDecember 13, 2017

Sears Holdings is getting more time to pay off a $400 million loan as it continues to reorganize its finances amid a double-digit downturn in sales.

The struggling retailer said in a regulatory filing Tuesday it had extended the maturity of the loan from June 30, 2018 to Jan. 20, 2019, with the option for a further extension to July 20, 2019. During the fourth quarter, it paid down the loan by $325 million, reducing the balance to about $400 million.

Sears also expects to obtain a new $607 million credit facility secured by about 140 stores that are being unlocked from a so-called ring-fence agreement with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. The proceeds will be used to make a contribution of approximately $407 million to the Sears pension plans and for general corporate purposes.

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“We have taken further action to provide the company with additional financial flexibility as we enter 2018,” Sears CFO Rob Riecker said in a news release.

“The extension of the term loan improves our short-term debt maturity profile, while the credit facility associated with the PBGC agreement will support our continued commitment to the company’s pension plans while enhancing our financial flexibility,” he added.

As CNBC reports, the financial maneuvers “buy the troubled parent of Sears and Kmart more time as it works to make good on its obligations and turn around its business.”

In the third quarter, Sears narrowed its loss to $558 million, or $5.19 a share, from $748 million, or $6.99 per share, a year earlier, but same-store sales dropped 15.3%. According to Riecker, it is continuing “to explore alternatives with respect to [its] debt maturities to meaningfully reduce cash interest payments and provide the company greater flexibility.”

“Sears appears to be working very hard to prove that the company has the liquidity to pay [its] vendors,” Susquehanna analysts wrote in a client note.

“We look forward to learning what ‘new’ investors would actually be willing to lend to Sears, as well as credible details on management’s goal of positive adjusted EBITDA in FY2018,” he said.