After 125 years in business, Sears could now be in its final hours. The iconic retailer, which filed for bankruptcy in October, may have to be liquidated if a bid to save it doesn't materialize before a 4pm Friday deadline. Chairman Eddie Lampert has proposed a $4.6 billion bid to buy the company as a whole through hedge fund ESL Investments, but sources tell CNBC that he had failed to submit a bid or secure financing by Thursday afternoon. The sources say that ESL is the only party that has offered to buy Sears as a whole, meaning the liquidation process will begin unless he manages a last-minute bid.
If Lampert does submit an official bid in time, the deal would keep the company's assets intact, allowing around 500 stores to remain open and allowing around 50,000 employees to keep their jobs, Fortune reports. The closure of another 142 stores was announced in the bankruptcy filing. CNN reports that if the deadline is missed, the company has the option of extending it—or, as some creditors would prefer, it could begin the process of closing down all of its stores and liquidating its assets. Court filings state that some creditors have called Lampert's proposed bid, which would be largely funded through debt forgiveness, a "foolhardy gamble with other people's money." (Not everybody would be sorry to Sears go.)