Don’t look now, but the UK’s second-largest bookseller is up for sale, with a deal rumored to be closed this month.
So says The Bookseller:
The sale of Waterstones to hedge fund Elliott Advisors is likely to close at the end of this month, The Booksellerunderstands. The looming deal has caused a delay in increasing the pay of senior booksellers, after junior staff saw their salaries rise with the increase in the National Minimum Wage.
A source with knowledge of the situation, who wished not to be named, said they believed the deal was on track to coincide with Waterstones’ financial year end on 30th April.
Elliott Advisors is the UK arm of the American hedge fund founded by c.e.o. Paul Singer. Sky News reported in January that the firm was one of a small number of bidders to have lodged formal offers to buy the bookselling chain and had been granted a period of exclusivity, albeit for a sum “far lower” than the £250m speculated by previous reports.
Elliott Management has not responded for a request for comment from The Bookseller, while Waterstones’ managing director James Daunt has declined to comment.
Waterstones’ current owner Russian oligarch Alexander Mamut put the business up for sale in October, handled by N M Rothschild.
At 281 stores and annual revenues in the range of £400 million, Waterstones is the second largest bookseller in the UK.
There’s no word yet on the sale price, but according to rumors from last October the chain “could be worth £250 million”. That is about five times what Mamut paid for Waterstones when he bought it in 2011.
image by Neil T