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Article updated: 1/7/2013 9:01 PM

D'Ambrosio steps down as Sears CEO

By

Hoffman Estates-based Sears Holdings Corp. said Monday that Chief Executive Officer Louis J. D'Ambrosio will step down due to family health matters by Feb. 2.

Edward S. Lampert will then assume the role of CEO in addition to his role as board chairman.

Sears said it is expecting to report a net loss for the fourth quarter between $280 million and $360 million. It will post its fourth-quarter earnings/losses around Feb. 28.

Because of those losses, the company expects to cut about $500 million by reducing inventory by the end of the third quarter in stores that are already closing or are expected to close, with initiatives under way to reduce slow-moving inventory and with modest productivity improvement.

D'Ambrosio will remain on the board until the company's next annual meeting of stockholders to be held in May and will be available to assist with the transition.

"Lou has guided Sears Holdings during a time of rapid industry change to become a more customer and member-focused company. His contributions to our company have been significant, and the entire Sears Holdings family wishes Lou and his family the very best," said Lampert. "In light of Lou's decision to step down, the board feels it is important that there is continuity of leadership during this important period of transformation and improvement at Sears Holdings. I have agreed to assume these additional responsibilities."

D'Ambrosio said it was a "difficult decision, but necessary." Sears spokesman Howard Reifs declined further comment about the family matter.

Riefs also said the net loss is mostly due to a noncash charge of $450 million for pension settlements related to voluntary offer to term-vested employees.

"This was a voluntary payment on our part," Riefs said. "We contributed $200 million more into the pension plan in the middle of 2012 so we could offer lump sum payouts. Despite this, we ended 2012 with no amount drawn on our revolver and in a very strong financial position."

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