Sears Canada flags ‘going concern’ doubts, explores sale: Reuters

U.S. hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert-controlled Sears Canada Inc flagged doubts about its ability to continue as a going concern and said it was exploring strategic options, including a sale of the company, following years of losses and falling sales.

Sears Canada’s shares slumped as much as 56 percent to 50 Canadian cents in early trading, as investors fretted about whether the company would be able to weather this liquidity crisis before it found a buyer.

The company was valued at about $51 million (US$38.5 million) at its lowest stock price on Tuesday, a far cry from the $1.18 billion valuation when it was partially spun off from Sears Holdings Corp in November 2012.

Sears Canada, much like Sears Holdings, now its fourth-largest shareholder, has struggled for years to remain relevant to shoppers who have switched to stores that keep up with fast-changing fashion trends.

The company has also booked losses as Wal-Mart Canada and have stepped up competition.

Sears Canada’s sales have fallen every quarter since it was spun off from Sears Holdings in 2012.

Sears Holdings, in March, also warned about its ability to continue as a going concern. The company said on Tuesday that it would cut 400 full-time jobs at its headquarters in Illinois as part of its plan to save more than US$1 billion in costs annually.

Sears Canada said it would postpone its 2017 annual meeting scheduled for June 14 to a date it would determine later.

The company’s cash and estimated cash flows from operations were not expected to be enough to meet obligations over the next 12 months, it said in a statement.

The company said it had expected to be able to borrow up to an additional US$175 million, which was secured against its owned and leased real estate, as part an existing loan. Based on current talks with lenders, however, it expects that it will be able to borrow up to US$109 million.

Sears Canada said it had recently begun a process to address its liquidity situation to continue to finance its business and had hired BMO Capital Markets to assist with the restructuring process.

(Reporting by Ahmed Farhatha and Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Sayantani Ghosh)

(This story has been edited by Kirk Falconer, editor of PE Hub Canada)

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Andy Clark