After weeks of speculation, music retailer and venue owner HMV group has announced a £53m sell-off of bookseller Waterstones.
The book chain, which has 296 stores across the UK and Ireland, is being sold to Alexander Mamut’s A&NN Group with the deal expected to be completed by the end of June.
The sale is conditional to shareholder approval.
The sale follows HMV’s confirmation in March that it entered negotiations with lenders and the realisation “that the Group needs to reduce its borrowing requirements in the short term in order to achieve a satisfactory refinancing.”
HMV says the “most timely and effective way to achieve this is through the disposal of Waterstone’s.”
A&NN will pay £40 million on completion of the sale and £13 million on 31 October 2011 and would not take on pension liabilities for UK based staff. The new owners will however accept liability for the retailer’s Irish pension scheme.
Commenting on the disposal, Simon Fox, Chief Executive of HMV Group, said: “Having fully explored the options available to it, the Board believes that a sale of Waterstone’s to Alexander Mamut provides a good new home for the business.
“Waterstone’s is a great business with high quality people who have tremendous passion for bookselling. The Group is grateful for their contribution and wishes the team continued success. I am confident the deal will enable Waterstone’s to go forwards and to remain at the heart of bookselling in the UK for a very long time to come.”
Alexander Mamut said: “I believe that our investment and strategy will secure a dynamic future for the UK’s largest bookshop chain and I look forward to working with its booksellers in building on the principle of excellent bookselling which is at the very heart of the business.”