February 23 – March 2, 2006 Edition

Barnes & Noble

Declines Bid

For Digital Retailer

LONDON/2/19/06—According to an article in the Business Telegraph, Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest chain of book stores, has declined to bid on the acquisition of HMV Media Group, the owner of the HMV and Waterstone’s retail chains which feature music, books and video. HMV is being pursued by a private equity group, Permira.

A team from Sterling Publishing, the publishing house owned by US-based Barnes & Noble, had been assessing the acquisition for a number of months, but has decided not to bid. The team was headed by Marcus Leaver, the former chief executive of Chrysalis Books, who joined Sterling last January.

Interestingly, last September HMV launched a new digital downloading service of books and music in the U.K., based on a software partnership with Microsoft. The development puts HMV in the forefront of the newly-emerging market for paid-for digital downloads, presumably why Barnes & Noble/Sterling’s may have been considering the buyout.

Sterling’s may have been approaching private equity houses such as KKR and Blackstone, which were also looking at HMV, to fund the bid, but apparently no overture was made.

The Business Telegraph article said, “Sterling was evaluating whether to open a chain of combined book and music stores, which is Barnes & Noble’s model in the US. However, it could not see a way to grow the troubled group.” Read the full article in The Business Telegraph.