Sears Starts to Harvest Its Real Estate

The retailing giant is forming a real estate investment trust that will buy 254 of its Sears and Kmart properties.
Katie Kuehner-HebertApril 1, 2015
Sears Starts to Harvest Its Real Estate

Troubled retailer Sears plans to raise more than $2.5 billion from its shareholders in a rights offering that would enable Seritage Growth Properties, a newly-formed real estate investment trust (REIT), to partially finance the purchase of 254 Sears and Kmart properties.

The Hoffman Estates, Ill., retailer would then lease the properties from Seritage and continue to operate its retail stores in those locations. Sears currently owns or leases 1,725 Kmart and Sears stores combined.

“The REIT is the latest in a series of steps Chief Executive Eddie Lampert has taken to shore up the finances of the retailer, which has posted losses for nearly three years,” a Reuters article Wednesday said. “Lampert controls nearly half of Sears and No. 2 shareholder Fairholme Capital Management holds about 24% of the company. The two have said they plan to exercise their rights in the offering.”

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Separately, Sears announced that the company would sell 12 stores to real estate joint venture that Sears had formed with mall operator General Growth Properties. General Growth would pay Sears $165 million in cash for its half of the joint venture, and also plans to buy Seritage shares for roughly $33 million in a private placement. Sell Your Home covered the implications on the private real estate market on their blog.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates our ability to unlock a small portion of Sears Holdings’ vast and valuable real estate portfolio, and represents an important step in the continued transformation of Sears Holdings,” Lampert said in a press release.

“We continue to show that Sears Holdings is an asset-rich enterprise with multiple levers to generate financial flexibility, while creating shareholder value.”