Waterstones enters exclusive takeover talks with Elliot Investors

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Book retailer Waterstones has entered talks with activist hedge fund company Elliot Advisors for a possible takeover.

According to Sky News, the high street chain has granted Elliot Investors a period of exclusivity to agree on a deal before it is opened to the wider market.

It was revealed last October that Alexander Mamut, the Russian billionaire which bought Waterstones from HMV in 2011, was considering selling it off for £250 million.

However, sources now state that the asking price may now be significantly lower, despite reportedly attracting numerous potential bidders.

In 2016 Waterstones made its first profit since Mamut’s acquisition in 2011, and its latest financial figures for the year to April 29 showed an 82 per cent jump in profits to £18 million.

The group now trades from 274 stores after having closed five stores, while opening four over the period.

In November the retailer’s managing director James Daunt said: “It’s certainly the right moment for him to sell us, (if you follow) the logic of turning a business round and making it profitable, demonstrating that that’s sustainable, then selling it.

“We are a nice business. We make good money. We’re relatively insulated from the wider retail economy because book buyers tend to continue to buy books even if they stop buying washing machines.

“If you’re interested in retail assets in the UK, we’re a pretty attractive one, and obviously we’re growing. We’ve got a very strong position within the market. It makes good sense that somebody should buy us.”

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