Sears, the 125-year-old icon, has 24 hours to survive.
The employer of more than 68,000 filed for bankruptcy in October. Its last shot at survival is a $4.6 billion proposal put forward by its chairman, Eddie Lampert, to buy the company out of bankruptcy through his hedge fund, ESL Investments.
ESL is the only party offering to buy Sears as a whole, people familiar with the situation tell CNBC. Without that bid or another like it, liquidators will break the company up into pieces.
But as Lampert stares down a deadline of Dec. 28 to submit his offer, he is quickly running out of time. Lampert has neither submitted his bid, nor rounded up financing, the people familiar said.
Should Lampert submit a bid, Sears’ advisors would have until Jan. 4 to decide whether he is a “qualified bidder.” Only then, could ESL take part in an auction against liquidation bids on Jan. 14.