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Creditors of Bergner's parent company The Bon-Ton Stores are looking to buy and liquidate the regional department store chain, which employs 20,000 workers, including a Carson's store in Cross County Mall in Mattoon.

The local store is not part of previously announced closures.

A rival investor group that includes two mall owners also hopes to buy The Bon-Ton Stores in a bankruptcy court-supervised auction today and keep the business alive, but faced a setback in court last week.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath in Delaware decided the investment group — alternative asset manager DW Partners, commercial real estate investment and management firm Namdar Realty Group, its partner Mason Asset Management and retail real estate investment trust Washington Prime Group — couldn't collect a $500,000 fee from The Bon-Ton Stores to do due diligence into the purchase.

She ruled a work fee was not allowed by the bidding procedures when other potential buyers, which include debt holders and liquidation groups, were footing due diligence bills themselves, according to court records.

"We remain in active discussions with DW Partners and other members of the investor group to complete an asset purchase agreement as we proceed toward the court-supervised auction scheduled to be held on April 16, 2018," a company spokesperson said in a statement.

The Milwaukee- and Pennsylvania-based retailer operates 260 stores under the Carson's, Bon-Ton, Bergner's, Boston Store, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's and Younkers nameplates.

In November, Bon-Ton said it planned to close 40 stores through 2018 in an effort to stem its losses. The company lost $135.4 million through the first three quarters of 2017.

The company announced in mid-March that Carson’s stores were set to close in Chicago, Morton Grove, Schaumburg, DeKalb and Danville. A Bergner’s in Peoria, was also set for closure, according to the report.

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