Drain could rule for Sears, even if the creditors don't agree with the decision.
A competing bid by Abacus Advisory Group LLC, made on behalf of most Sears creditors and landlords, had meant to shut down and liquidate the company.
Lampert's fund, ESL Investments, intends to keep 425 Sears and Kmart stores open, saving the jobs of 45,000 employees - a move that Judge Robert Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of NY described as credible.
Sears will live on under Chairman Edward Lampert, who ‘has nine lives, it seems’
"For the sake of our jobs, our co-workers, our communities, and our families, we want Sears Holdings to succeed, not be a pawn in Lampert's game", the employees wrote.
Schrock argued that the proposal to liquidate would not raise more money than a sale, as claimed by the creditors.
"The benefits of the sales process really do outweigh an orderly wind down", he said. Although Drain did not have jurisdiction to decide the issue, he gave an advisory opinion in favor of Sears' claim that ESL is responsible for those liabilities. He overruled objections, including from an unsecured creditors committee.
"How long are these good locations going to remain good", said Stern, senior partner at Chicago-based McMillan Doolittle.More news: Sierra Leone declares emergency over rape, sexual assault
A USA bankruptcy judge on Thursday approved Sears Holdings Corp. PBGC believe the two pension funds for 90,000 Sears retirees and beneficiaries are underfunded by $1.4 billion.
Over the next few years, Lampert's business plan calls for him to sell about $200 million a year in real estate and more than $900 million in assets overall, according to court testimony Thursday.
The retailer's future hung by a thread just a few weeks ago as Lampert's initial overtures were rejected, with creditors arguing that the company was worth more dead than alive.
The most serious issue left to be decided is how much of the $166 million in accounts payable Lampert and his hedge fund ESL are willing to assume. ESL's attorney disputed that but said it could be settled after the sale closes.More news: Good Friday agreement in peril over Brexit, Tony Blair warns
James Bromley, ESL's attorney, said the disagreement can be settled in future negotiations after the deal closes. A Sears executive said during the hearing that the company wasn't sure how many stores it would sell in meeting those financial goals. It had lost $12 billion since its last profitable year in 2010 through its bankruptcy filing last October.
Once a mainstay in American shopping malls, Sears, which also owns Kmart, has closed nearly 3,000 stores and cut more than 250,000 jobs since 2007.More news: Trump’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, claims woman assaulted her at restaurant