Waterstone coy on bid for book chain

Tim Waterstone is reportedly pondering a bid to buy the bookstore he founded in 1982 with HMV billionaire investor Alexander Mamut.

In the recent past, Waterstone has distanced himself from a bid saying while he would be interested if it was put up for sale, it was an irrelevant question as the book chain was not available.

However, there has been growing speculation that Waterstone may bid for the chain, given his relationship with Russian billionaire investor Alexander Mamut, who has a 6.1% stake in HMV Group. Waterstone previously invested in Bookberry, a now bankrupt Russian chain.

When contacted by the Guardian on Saturday and asked if he was considering a bid with Mamut, Waterstone said: "I just can't comment at this stage. Sorry to be obtuse."

Stockbroker Arden Partners reiterated in its Daily Retailer email that the “best option” for the HMV Group is to sell Waterstones to raise money for up to £75million, which would rebalance a “shrunken HMV core business on the Live music and Digital assets.

It said: "HMV is in a dilemma, in that it would prefer to keep it but it needs to raise money and Waterstones is the one business it can sell."

Waterstone originally sold his book business in 1993 for £9million, bought it back becoming group chairman backed by HMV but then left again in 2001 over concerns about how the business was being run. Since then he has bid for the business four times, the most recent in 2006.