Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Waterstone Drops Bid for Book Chain; CITY BRIEFING

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Waterstone Drops Bid for Book Chain; CITY BRIEFING

Article excerpt


TIM WATERSTONE today failed in his sixth and latest attempt to take over the bookshops chain he founded more than two decades ago.

Just a week after launching a [pounds sterling]280 million attempt to buy the Waterstone's chain from owner HMV, Waterstone today pulled out of his bid. HMV had been ready to open its books to the 66-year-old entrepreneur but was told last night that his main backer, Lazard Private Equity Partners, "had withdrawn its support".

Waterstone today blamed a raft of conditions attached to giving him access to detailed accounts.

These included a deadline of 19 May to conduct due diligence and a promise that if he did not go ahead with the offer, he could not return with an alternative bid for the next 12 months.

A spokesman for Waterstone said: "HMV's conditions for opening their books were ludicrously proscriptive, including an absurd timetable for due diligence, a refusal to give us a period of exclusivity, no indication that they would accept our [pounds sterling]280 million on completion and, most damagingly, a condition that if they did not accept our money, then we would be barred from making any other approach to them for a period of 12 months."

But HMV's advisers rejected Waterstone's objections, stating that the conditions were all " perfectly normal in a situation like this". One source close to HMV said: "We were all ready to open the books but, for some reason, they would not sign the standard confidentiality agreement."

He pointed out that the setting of a deadline of 19 May was designed to fit in with the Competition Commission's final clearance of HMV's bid for Ottakar's, which is expected to be given and which Tim Waterstone opposed.

HMV is expected to make a reduced offer for its rival chain of bookshops, cutting its original 440p offer to more like 300p - which would value it at just [pounds sterling]88 million. …

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