Sears Holdings Corp. won court approval to pursue a sale of its best stores, a process that would be the retailer’s only hope of avoiding liquidation, WSJ Pro Bankruptcy reported. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain yesterday signed off on the company’s sale timeline to sell at least 400 of its best-performing stores. The company must find a so-called stalking horse, or lead bidder, by Dec. 15, which would set the floor price for other offers. If there is more than one qualifying bid for the stores, an auction would be held in mid-January. Sears has pegged its future to the sale of these stores since its Oct. 15 bankruptcy filing. Chairman Edward Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments Inc., is expected to make a stalking-horse offer. Through ESL, Lampert is Sears’s largest shareholder and creditor, and his position in the company is being placed under the microscope. Before the bankruptcy filing, he was also chief executive. The company has appointed a special committee to investigate prior transactions between ESL and Sears. In addition, the committee of unsecured creditors has taken aim at ESL, and will be performing its own investigation. Judge Drain approved this secondary investigation yesterday as well.