HMV in talks with Russian billionaire over sale of bookseller Waterstone’s

HIGH street bookseller Waterstone’s could be sold to a Russian billionaire by its owner HMV.

The retailer is said to be holding talks over a potential sale to oligarch Alexander Mamut, a wealthy businessmen best known in Britain as the backer of blogging website LiveJournal.

Mamut has already built a 6.1 per cent stake in the company and is said to have teamed up with its founder, Tim Waterstone, to lodge a bid.

HMV’s advisers are expected to meet Mamut’s team in London as they look for potential suitors for the ailing book store chain.

Earlier this month the Russian entrepreneur hired investment bank Credit Suisse to advise him on options for the retailer.

Shares in HMV jumped by more than ten per cent following the news.

Waterstone, who founded the book store in the early 1980s, has previously attempted to buy back his business from HMV but later withdrew his offer.

A sale could allow HMV chief executive Simon Fox to focus on the group’s core music business, which has taken a battering from online competitors over recent years.

Waterstone’s struggled over the Christmas period, despite being cast as a “turnaround” story by HMV.

Like-for-like sales at the book chain slipped 2.1 per cent in the ten weeks to 1 January as a result of bad weather.