RETAIL
Sears chairman makes new takeover bid

Sears Holdings Chairman Eddie Lampert submitted a revised takeover bid of more than $5 billion for the company, according to a regulatory filing made Thursday, significantly increasing the likelihood the department store chain will be able to stay in business.

Sears set a Wednesday deadline for Lampert to submit a new offer for the retailer and a $120 million deposit, after the billionaire hedge fund manager’s earlier $4.4 billion bid fell short. The chain, which includes Kmart discount stores, had decided to ask a U.S. bankruptcy judge to pursue liquidation Tuesday morning, before giving Lampert more time to improve his offer.

His new bid, made through an affiliate of his hedge fund ESL Investments, assumes more than $600 million in liabilities, including taxes, vendor bills
and other expenses Sears has incurred since filing for bankruptcy protection last October.

Sears will consider Lampert’s offer against a possible liquidation during a Jan. 14 bankruptcy auction.

The bid would preserve up to 50,000 jobs. Sears employed about 68,000 people when it filed for bankruptcy.

A group of Sears creditors, including some landlords and vendors, has been calling for the chain to shut its doors for good, saying they will recover more money in that scenario.

— Reuters

AUTO INDUSTRY
Ford, Jaguar slash thousands of jobs

Ford and Jaguar Land Rover unveiled sweeping job cuts
across Europe on Thursday as carmakers struggle with a slump in demand for diesel vehicles, tougher emissions rules and a global economic slowdown led by China.

Tata-owned Jaguar, based in central England, said it will cut 4,500 out of 42,500 jobs, while Ford said it will slash “thousands” of jobs as part of an overhaul that could result in plant closures and the discontinuation of some models.

A trade war between China and the United States combined with Britain’s pending exit from the European Union has fragmented once-global markets, forcing carmakers to reassess the profitability of individual models and locations.

In recent quarters, JLR’s and Ford’s profits have lagged behind those of peers BMW, Volkswagen and Peugeot, ramping up investor pressure on managers to stem losses.

Ford Europe, which employs 53,000 people, has been losing money for years, and pressure
to restructure its operations
has increased since archrival General Motors raised profits by selling its European Opel and Vauxhall brands to France’s Peugeot SAC.

JLR said demand in China, once one of its strongest countries, fell by 21.6 percent in 2018, the biggest drop of any of its markets.

— Reuters

Also in Business

The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength that could further assuage concerns about the economy's health. The report from the Labor Department on Thursday followed data last week showing employers hired the most workers in 10 months in December.

Frontier Airlines pilots have approved a new contract after nearly three years of negotiations. The Air Line Pilots Association said 77 percent of pilots for the Denver-based discount carrier backed the deal in a vote that ended Thursday. The union says the new contract will provide an average 53 percent pay increase. Frontier pilots have been working under a contract changed in 2011 to keep the airline out of bankruptcy.

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into the tax treatment of Nike in the Netherlands, saying this may have given the U.S. sportswear maker an illegal advantage. The Nike investigation, announced on Thursday, follows other probes by the E.U. executive into tax schemes in Belgium, Gibraltar, Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Labor Department releases consumer price index for December.

— From news services