Sears closings puts millions in CMBS loans at risk

The Scotsman Guide - Victor Whitman - 30 JUN 2017

The latest Sears closings will put $550.4 million in loans packaged in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) at heightened risk, Morningstar Credit Ratings reported.

Sears told its workers earlier this month that it will close 20 unprofitable stores around October, as first reported by Business Insider. Morningstar said that all the properties served as collateral to a single loan; however, because that loan was securitized in a deal involving a portfolio of many properties, the impact of the store closings would be “minimal” on that securitization.

Morningstar was more concerned about the impact of seven of the store closings on regional malls that collateralize other deals. These seven stores were non-collateral tenants in these malls. Sears closings could, however, weaken the malls, which back a total of $550.4 million of loans in other deals.

Sears’ long-range future is also in doubt, Morningstar said. The company has 330 locations backing 209 CMBS loans with an aggregate principal balance of $12.78 billion, Morningstar said.

“While Sears has managed to stay afloat by selling and spinning off its real estate assets to generate cash, the chance of a turnaround seems bleaker, as the Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company has spent years trying to modernize while failing to keep pace with the evolving marketplace,” Morningstar said.