UPDATE 4-Sears explores sale of stake in Canadian arm, no quick deal seen

Wed May 14, 2014 5:16pm EDT
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* Sears Holdings says it may put Sears Canada up for sale

* Sears to hire investment bank to suggest options for its stake

* Sears Canada shares up 4 percent, Sears Holdings drops 2.8 percent (Recasts, adds comments from retail consultants, analyst, HBC, updates stock price)

By Susan Taylor and Ashutosh Pandey

TORONTO, May 14 (Reuters) - Sears Holdings Corp said on Wednesday it was looking at selling its 51 percent stake in Sears Canada Inc, a move that could trigger a deal for the entire Canadian operation, though a quick and easy sale was seen as unlikely.

Sears Holdings, which operates more than 2,300 stores in the United States and Canada, said it will hire an investment bank to explore options for its share of Sears Canada.

Shares of Sears Holdings, which is controlled by hedge fund billionaire Eddie Lampert, dropped nearly 6 percent on Wednesday while Sears Canada stock rose 3.4 percent.

The move comes as Sears Holdings, which operates Sears and Kmart discount stores, tries to engineer a turnaround.

Sales have declined since 2005, when Lampert merged the two U.S. chains in an $11 billion deal, and the company has closed about 300 U.S. stores since 2010, but still struggles to generate cash.   Continued...