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Waterstones sold to hedge fund Elliott Advisors

British bookstore chain Waterstones has been sold to hedge fund Elliott Advisors for an undisclosed amount, reports the Bookseller.

Following exclusive talks that began in January 2018, Elliott Advisors bought a controlling stake in the chain from Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut’s firm, Lynwood Investments. Mamut put the 283-store chain up for sale in late 2017.

The deal is expected to be completed in early May, though the terms of the sale were not disclosed. Elliott Advisors will provide financing for the transaction, and Lynwood Investments will retain a minority stake. Waterstones CEO James Daunt will remain in his role, along with his ‘key leadership team’.

Daunt—who has led the business since Mamut bought Waterstones from the HMV Group for £53 million (A$97.6 million) in 2011 and who in 2016 helped restore the business to profitability for the first time in five years—described the sale as ‘a very happy outcome for Waterstones’. ‘I thank Lynwood Investments for their invaluable support through this turnaround, and we enter new ownership looking forward with great optimism to the next chapter in the development of Waterstones,’ said Daunt.

In an interview with the Press Association, Daunt highlighted opportunities for the bookseller to expand. ‘We’re a retailer that’s doing well on a high street which isn’t doing very well,’ said Daunt. ‘Whilst of course we don’t like seeing companies, other fellow retailers, going out of business, it is giving us quite a lot of opportunities to expand which we frankly haven’t had in the recent past because they’ve been very limited availability of new shops.’

Elliott Advisors is the UK arm of the US hedge fund Elliott Management, which oversees £22 billion (A$40.5 billion) worth of assets.

According to the Bookseller, UK publishers welcomed the news that Daunt would continue to lead the chain, although some expressed concerns over the chain being owned by a private equity firm.


Category: International news