Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#536 Eddie Lampert $3.66B

Random fact: Worked on Goldman Sachs risk arbitrage desk from 1984 to 1988.

Overview

Lampert is the founder of ESL Investments, a Bay Harbor, Florida-based hedge fund with $2.8 billion under management. He's the chairman and largest individual shareholder of Sears Holdings, a Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based department store chain, and owns stakes in several Sears spinoff companies, as well as AutoNation.

As of July 27, 2017:
Last change -$4.63M (-0.1%)
YTD change -$95.4M (-2.5%)
Industry Finance
Biggest asset Cash
Citizenship United States
Age 54
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Eddie Lampert's net worth of $3.66B can buy ...

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troy ounces of gold
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barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

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of the GDP of the United States
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of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
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of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Lampert's wealth stems from his investments in retailers over the past decade, most notably Sears Holdings and several Sears-affiliated spinoffs, including Sears Canada, Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Lands' End and Seritage Growth Properties. He also owns about 11 percent of AutoNation. Positions are taken from the latest Securities and Exchange Commission filings that disclose ownership of Lampert and his hedge funds. This analysis excludes shares owned by other investors through Lampert's funds.

The billionaire loaned $321 million to Sears Holding in January 2017. Past loans have left Lampert with 6.3 million warrants accepted in lieu of interest payments. These warrants are exercisable at $28.41 each and aren't counted in this analysis because they are underwater.

Lampert's hedge fund, ESL Investments, manages about $2.8 billion in assets, according to a Form ADV filed with the SEC in March 2016 that also indicated he owns all of the firm and has $400 million of his own money in the funds.

ESL itself is valued by the price-to-asset under management ratio of publicly traded hedge funds Och-Ziff and Man Group. His personal $400 million in funds held in ESL are excluded from its AUM for the peer-group calculation and represented as a separate asset.

Lampert has more than $2 billion in other assets, the majority of which stems from sales of AutoNation stock since 2009. This analysis asserts he sold out of his last disclosed holdings of the retailer by 2015, about two years after fell below beneficial reporting requirements. Taxes, dividends, market performance and more than $1.3 billion in stock sales and purchases in other retailer stocks are also tabulated to adjust this cash figure.

Representatives for Lampert didn't return phone calls seeking comment.

Biography

Birthdate: 7/19/1962
Family: Married, 3 children
Education: Yale University, Economics, Bachelor's Degree

Edward S. Lampert was born July 19, 1962, the son of Floyd Lampert of the law firm of Lampert & Lampert, and Dolores, a homemaker. Growing up in the suburb of Roslyn on New York's Long Island, he watched Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street Week with his grandmother, a dividend investor. His father died of a heart attack when Lampert was 14 years old.

Lampert, his mother, and his sister Tracey, struggled. In high school, he worked at a warehouse, and read financial reports at night. He received a degree in economics from Yale University and landed a job at Goldman Sachs in 1984, working in risk arbitrage under fixed-income chief Robert Rubin. Four years later, he left to start ESL under the tutelage of investor Richard Rainwater.

Lampert left after 18 months. A value investor, he began buying aircraft lessor PS Group in 1993. As the company ran into financial problems, he pushed for asset sales and dividends, doubling ESL's money. ESL bought IBM in 1995, when CEO Louis Gerstner took charge and realized that investors were focused on the company' PCs and mainframes, not the lucrative service business. Lampert had quadrupled his money by 1999.

Investors noticed, including Thomas Tisch, David Geffen and the Ziff family, all of whom invested with ESL. Assets peaked at $15 billion by 2007. Lampert moved into unglamorous retail niches, including auto parts chain AutoZone and car dealer AutoNation. He bought big positions without using leverage. He often agitated for change, pushing out the management at AutoZone.

Lampert was kidnapped in January 2003, persuading his captors into freeing him days later. Later that year, ESL gained control of Kmart, purchasing $1 billion of debt of the ailing discount chain for as little as 20 cents on the dollar. When it emerged from bankruptcy in May 2003, ESL was the largest shareholder. He sold stores, cut capital expenditures, inventories and promotions. The stock soared and, in November 2004, Kmart announced plans to buy Sears Holdings for $11 billion. A Businessweek cover story asked whether Lampert was the next Warren Buffett.

The combined company, Sears, rallied. The shares peaked in early 2007, and then began a decline that lasted for seven years. The company's market capitalization dropped to $6.2 billion in 2013 from $27.3 billion in 2007. Analysts criticized Lampert for not spending enough on upkeep and for shuttering stores. In 2012, Lampert moved to Florida leaving most of ESL's staff in Connecticut. He assumed the Sears' CEO post in February 2013, the fifth person to hold that post since his takeover.

Lampert and his wife, Kinga, contributed $100,000 in 2011 to American Friends of UHN, which funds Toronto's University Health Network. In 2010, they donated $75,000 to the NYU Heart Rhythm Center and $125,000 to the Minneapolis Heart Institute.

Milestones
  • 1962 Born on New York's Long Island, to lawyer Floyd and Dolores Lampert.
  • 1984 Graduates from Yale University with a bachelor's degree in economics.
  • 1984 Joins Goldman Sachs, eventually working with Robert Rubin.
  • 1988 Starts ESL hedge fund under investor Richard Rainwater.
  • 2003 Kidnapped in parking lot and held hostage for three days at Days Inn.
  • 2007 Assets top $15 billion following Goldman Sachs asset raising of $3.5 billion.
  • 2008 Fund loses 33 percent in 2008, following 27 percent decline the prior year.
  • 2011 ESL Partners fell 4 percent during the first nine months of 2011.