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Cyrus becomes Sears bankruptcy lender after cutting a deal in courthouse hallway

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Sears
Three Western Pennsylvania stores were among the 72 outlets that Sears shuttered this fall.

Cyrus Capital Partners will provide Sears Holdings Corp. a loan to keep the bankrupt retailer’s stores open after the hedge fund won a bidding war in a courthouse hallway, according to a lawyer for Sears.

Sears had negotiated a $350 million loan from specialty financing firm Great American Capital Partners that would have cost 11.5 percentage points over a benchmark lending rate, according to a previous court filing. The new deal with Cyrus will cut the company’s borrowing costs by 1.5 percentage points, company lawyer Sunny Singh said at a hearing in White Plains, New York, on Tuesday.

Judge Robert Drain said he’ll approve the so-called junior debtor-in-possession financing, which ranks below earlier funding that the retailer lined up for its Chapter 11 proceedings.

“We had bidding for the junior DIP literally outside in the hallway for the last hour,” Singh told the judge.

The new debt further ties Cyrus, already a major Sears creditor, to the fate of the Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based retailer. Cyrus also won an auction for $251 million of internal Sears debt that gives the retailer a jolt of cash while also helping the hedge fund protect the value of derivatives wagers it made on Sears, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Cyrus is believed by market participants to be one of the largest sellers of such derivatives, known as credit-default swaps, which insured against a Sears default. By purchasing the intercompany notes for $82.5 million, it can now prevent them from being used by other derivatives traders to boost the payout required on the trades.

Sears has been liquidating unprofitable stores through the holiday shopping season as it seeks to emerge with a smaller chain of its namesake and Kmart outlets. The company is seeking bids by Dec. 5 for 505 stores, although it’s also accepting bids to liquidate them. Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert, the company’s biggest shareholder and largest creditor, is expected to make a bid to keep a group of stores open.

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