The end: Sears reportedly liquidating

New York City. If the bankrupt retail chain does not accept the only bid to save it it could be forced to start the process of shutting down as soon

Lampert's offer was reportedly the only one that sought to rescue the company rather than liquidate it.

"Sears Holdings Corp will ask a bankruptcy judge on Tuesday if it can proceed with liquidation after it could not reach an agreement on Chairman Edward Lampert's $4.4 billion takeover bid, casting doubt on the survival of the 126-year-old USA department store", Reuters exclusively reported Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

But the deadline passed without any word from Sears on the status of the bid.

Lampert touted his merger of Kmart and Sears as laying the groundwork for their revival, a scenario that did not work out, and had the hedge fund manager relinquishing his role as CEO just after Sears filed for bankruptcy protection last fall.

When Sears filed for bankruptcy in October, it said it hoped to stay in business, using the bankruptcy process to shed debt and other costs to become a smaller, more competitive retailer.

Ultimately, a bankruptcy judge is giving Lampert more time.

Lampert had submitted a bid on December 28.

The deal was reached after days of "virtually round-the-clock negotiations", Sears attorney Ray Schrock told the court.

Lampert's bid proposed forgiving $1.3 billion of debt he holds in exchange for ownership of the reconstituted Sears, a bankruptcy maneuver known as a credit bid. Meanwhile, Lampert also plans to present details of his offer and make the case for renewing efforts to save Sears in bankruptcy court on Tuesday.

Sears dates back to the late 1880s and its mail-order catalogs.

Under Lampert, Sears has bought time over the years by spinning off stores and putting on the block the brands that had grown synonymous with the company, such as Craftsman.

The iconic retailer gradually lost its shine, however, as consumers turned to e-commerce and brick-and-mortar rivals such as Walmart Inc and Target Corp.

As late as Monday night, the company had told involved parties it was planning to announce a liquidation before the market opened on Tuesday in NY, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

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