Borders US to close

The final death knell for Borders US sounded yesterday as the company said its remaining 399 stores would begin winding down in three days' time.

No bidders came forward to buy the 40-year-old American bookselling chain, so the company cancelled a bankruptcy auction planned for today (19th July).

Instead, Borders will sell itself to a group of liquidators led by Hilco Merchant Resources. In a statement, Borders Group president Mike Edwards said: "We were all working hard towards a different outcome, but the headwinds we have been facing for quite some time, including the rapidly changing book industry, e-reader revolution, and turbulent economy, have brought us to where we are now."

The store-closure programme will last until September and its 10,700 employees will be made redundant.

The company, which declared bankruptcy in February this year, will begin the store closures under Chapter 11 bankruptcy terms and expects to be able to pay its business partners.

Borders had hoped to sell itself to buyout firm Najafi Cos, which owns the Book-of-the-Month Club. While Najafi was willing to pay $215 million in cash and take on another $220 million in liabilities to acquire the assets, the deal fell apart last week after creditors objected to terms that would have allowed Najafi to liquidate after completing the sale.

Bloomberg reports that creditors, landlords and e-book maker Kobo have criticised Borders' liquidation.

Lawyers for Kobo said: "The debtors are proposing a hurried and confusing sale process that leaves parties such as Kobo uninformed as to precisely what will be sold or how the debtors intend to proceed."

The company has argued it should have first right of refusal for any transfer of Borders' 11% stake in its equity and has also said that Borders should not be allowed to sell information that Kobo has licensed to the defunct chain.