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S&P downgrades Sears to D on bankruptcy filing

S&P Global Ratings downgraded Sears Holdings Corp. and its rated subsidiaries' issuer credit rating and issue-level ratings to D after the cash-strapped U.S. department store chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the early hours of Oct. 15.

S&P said it views the maturity of Sears' $134 million debt, which fell on the same day, as the trigger for the filing. The agency said it initially viewed Sears Chairman Edward Lampert's proposed debt restructuring as an alternative to a bankruptcy filing.

S&P said it has regarded Sears' capital structure as "unsustainable" for several years due to cash use in the company's retail operation, pension funding requirements and a heavy cash interest burden.

However, S&P said the retailer's extensive legacy asset base supported efforts to finance cash losses with asset sales and additional financings from, among others, entities related to its largest shareholder, Lampert.

Lampert stepped down as CEO when the company filed for bankruptcy protection.

S&P said it will withdraw the D ratings once they have been outstanding for 30 days.

This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings, a separately managed division of S&P Global. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings. The original S&P Global Ratings documents referred to in this news brief can be found here.