April 18, 2018 / 12:44 AM / 7 months ago

Liquidators to wind down U.S. department store chain Bon-Ton

April 17 (Reuters) - Bon-Ton Stores Inc, a bankrupt department store chain, will begin a going-out-of-business sale at its 200 U.S. locations in the coming days after two liquidators won an auction for the company, two sources close to the situation told Reuters on Tuesday.

Bon-Ton, which traces its roots to 1854, had hoped in recent days that a pair of landlords and a private equity firm would actively bid at the auction and try to save the business.

However, sources told Reuters on Monday that the auction started without the landlord group.

Great American Group and Tiger Capital Group, which specialize in winding down retail chains, won the auction with a bid estimated to be worth $775.5 million, according to the sources. The pair bid against other liquidators.

The money raised from the auction will be used by Bon-Ton to repay its creditors.

A portion of the winning bid came in the form of a credit bid, or when a creditor uses some of what they are owed instead of cash, sources told Reuters. Bondholders’ credit bid contributed at least $100 million to the value of the winning bid, according to the sources.

The failure of the company, with headquarters in York, Pennsylvania and Milwaukee, comes weeks after Toys ‘R’ Us began a piecemeal liquidation of its namesake stores and Babies ‘R’ Us, the latest sign of upheaval in the retail industry.

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing will be held in Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday to approve of the winning bid, clearing the way for the liquidators to begin selling store inventory, leases and fixtures.

It is possible some of the stores will be acquired by another retail operator that could reopen the stores under one of the Bon-Ton names.

The company’s stores include Carson’s, Younkers, Elder-Beerman, Bergner’s, Boston Store, and Herberger’s, as well as Bon-Ton.

Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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