Hedge fund hot shot Eddie Lampert names himself CEO of Sears Holdings.
By Roben Farzad to Bloomberg
Eddie Lampert, 50, the chairman of the company and founder and head of hedge fund ESL Investments, inserted himself as Sears’s fifth chief executive officer in seven years. You cannot help but wonder if Lampert knows what he wants to do with the retailer/investment vehicle, which is the product of his 2005 smashing together of Kmart and Sears Roebuck.
Out of the gate, the merged entity’s first CEO was Alan Lacy, the same guy who led Sears before it sold, following a long-term decline. Within six months, Eddie Lampert replaced the legacy exec with fast-food veteran Aylwin Lewis, who was then pushed out to start 2008, amid Sears Holdings’ broad reorganization. Then, for more than three years, Eddie Lampert allowed the company—in operational decline, and shuttering stores—to be run by an interim CEO. Finally, or so the Street thought, in February 2011 he tapped Louis D’Ambrosio, who had no experience in retail, to become its CEO. D’Ambrosio cited family health issues for his departure.
“I have agreed to assume these additional responsibilities in order to continue the company’s recovery and sustain the momentum we are experiencing, as well as further the development of the management team under the distributed leadership model, which provides our business unit leaders with greater control, authority and autonomy,” remarked hedge fund manager. “Working closely with the Board, management and our dedicated associates, we will remain focused on executing our goals, improving operations and building sustainable long-term value for shareholders. All of this starts with delivering great experiences to our Members.”
Sears shares, which finished 2012 up 45 percent, closed yesterday down 6.4 percent to $40.16.
While it may be blocked from profiting from disposing of unwanted real estate, insiders say other moves could include separating Sears from Kmart, and spinning off still-smaller parts of the operations.
Last year, Eddie Lampert generated $1.8 billion in cash, mainly through asset sales and spinoffs, to stave off a potential liquidity crisis as Sears and Kmart stores continue to lose money.
Sears Holdings — which has posted 23 straight quarters of declining sales — yesterday said it expects to lose as much as $360 million in the current quarter.