Waterstones 'Likely' to Be Sold to Hedge Fund This Month

Waterstones will be sold to hedge fund Elliott Advisors "likely" by the end of April, the end of the U.K. bookstore chain's fiscal year, according to the Bookseller, which cited "a source with knowledge of the situation." Neither Waterstones nor Elliott Advisors has commented on the report.

Elliott Advisors is the U.K. arm of Elliott Management Corp., the investment management firm headed by Paul Singer, known for an interest in companies with heavy debt, for his financial support of the Republican Party and for his support of LGBTQ rights. Elliott Advisors is run by Singer's son Gordon Singer.

In January, Sky News reported that Elliott Advisors had made an offer for Waterstones and had a short period of exclusivity.

Waterstones has staged a turnaround in the last few years, but Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut, who bought Waterstones in 2011, apparently needs to raise cash because of the collapse last year of Russia's largest private bank, Otkritie, in which he was a major shareholder. Last year, Mamut asked N.M. Rothschild & Sons to advise him on strategic options for Waterstones, including a sale for £250 million (about $352 million), although speculation is that the price would be lower.

Under CEO James Daunt, who owns Daunt Books, which has nine shops in and near London, Waterstones became profitable in 2015, reversing years of poor results that had caused many to fear that the last major bookselling chain in the U.K. would go out of business.

Waterstones has some 275 stores in the U.K., Ireland and continental Europe.
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