BILLIONAIRE bibliophile Alexander Mamut has a long-standing friendship with Tim Waterstone, the founder of the book chain that bears his name.
Although it is not yet clear whether they will mount a joint bid for the retailer, the pair have joined forces behind a bookseller in the past.
The oligarch and the Englishman formed the cornerstone of a group of investors in Russian bookstore chain Bookberry, before selling out to another Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, in 2008.
Both Waterstone and Mamut share a love for literature and have been friends since the venture.
The two are said to have been building a management team to run the chain, with plans to take it back to its roots as a stock holding business with more day-to-day management input from its staff.