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Major Sears Shareholder Unloads $5.5M Worth of Stock

Sears Holdings Corp.’s second-largest shareholder, Fairholme Capital Management, is making the most of Seritage Growth Properties, the struggling retailer’s real-estate investment trust (REIT).

Bruce Berkowitz, Fairholme’s founder and chief investment officer, on Thursday sold 251,400 shares of the stock in a transaction valued at more than $5.5 million, according to a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

Earlier this month, Fairholme revealed a 13.2 percent stake, or 3,252,750 Class A common shares, in Seritage, which opened Monday on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at $39.40 per share.

By contrast, Sears Holdings Corp.’s stock opened after the weekend at $22.19 per share. Berkowitz now owns 71,700 shares of Sears, or about $1.5 million.

The 129-year-old retailer in April announced that it expected to raise roughly $2.5 billion from the sale-leaseback of around 235 Sears and Kmart branded properties to the REIT, thereby unlocking the value of its real estate for its investors. At the time, the company’s billionaire chairman, CEO and majority shareholder, Eddie Lampert, said he and Fairholme intended to exercise their rights in the offering in full.

During a teleconference with investors in February, Berkowitz had said Sears presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because of its real estate. Analysts, however, have disagreed, predicting the REIT will buy Sears, which reported its 12th straight quarterly loss in June, little more than time.