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NEW YORK — An attorney for J.C. Penney Co. told a bankruptcy judge Wednesday that the retailer is going forward with a sale of its business and expects the deal to be completed by the fall.

The potential sale comes as Plano, Texas-based Penney is looking at three bidders, which are looking at buying the company as a going concern. The bidders weren't identified.

During an address in bankruptcy court, Joshua Sussberg, an attorney at Kirkland & Ellis, lambasted an article published earlier this week by The New York Post that reported a $1.75 billion bid by private equity firm Sycamore Partners to buy Penney and merge with another struggling chain Belk Inc.. He called the report "ill-informed."

"We are moving forward with a sales process," Sussberg said. "We are hopeful."

A spokesperson at Sycamore Partners declined to comment.

The 118-year-old company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in mid-May, marking the biggest retailer to buckle under the financial fallout from the coronavirus. Penney said in mid-July that it plans to cut 1,000 of its roughly 85,000 jobs  as it tries to fight its way out of bankruptcy protection.

Penney said last month it had identified 154 stores for closure in the first phase of a restructuring to shrink its footprint. As part of its bankruptcy reorganization, J.C. Penney has said it plans to permanently close nearly a third of its 846 stores in the next two years. That would leave it with just over 600 locations.

Penney, which reopened its stores starting in May, said that the locations off the mall are faring better than the ones at mall locations. But sales and customer traffic have become more challenging with the recent COVID-19 resurgence in certain states.

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