New York: Sears Holdings Corp. will ask a bankruptcy judge on Tuesday if it can proceed with liquidation after it could not reach an agreement on chairman Edward Lampert’s $4.4 billion takeover bid, casting doubt on the survival of the 126-year-old US department store, people familiar with the matter said.

Should Sears liquidate its assets, it would become perhaps the most high-profile victim in the wave of bankruptcies that have swept the retail sector in the last few years, as the popularity of online shopping exacerbates the fierce price competition facing brick-and-mortar stores.

Sears, which filed for bankruptcy protection last October, may have to close hundreds of stores it is still operating, potentially putting up to 68,000 people out of work, the people said. Its vast inventories of tools, appliances and store fixtures will be sold in fire sales, the people added.

Lawyers for Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc., also plan to present details of his offer and make the case for renewing efforts to save Sears, the people said.

US bankruptcy judge Robert Drain in Southern District of New York, who is presiding over the case, could decide to give Lampert more time to improve on his bid, the people said. A bankruptcy auction for Sears’ assets is not due until 14 January.

The people asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

Representatives for Sears and Lampert offered no immediate comment.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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