Waterstones announces Change of Ownership
Waterstones, the leading UK bookseller, announces today that it has entered into a binding agreement to be acquired and financed by funds managed by Elliott Advisors (UK) Ltd (“Elliott”). Waterstones operates a chain of 283 bookshops located across the UK and in Ireland, The Netherlands and Belgium. It had sales of over £400 million in the year to the end of April 2017. Lynwood Investments, controlling shareholder of Waterstones since 2011, will retain a minority stake.
Founded in 1977, Elliott is one of the oldest and largest private investment organisations globally, with funds under management of approximately $35 billion. The Elliott funds’ investors include pension plans, sovereign wealth funds, endowments, foundations, funds-of-funds, and employees of the firm. Elliott has an active and growing presence in private equity, investing globally with notable past and current investments including ASG Technologies, Charter Court Financial Services, Dell Software, Gigamon, Game Digital PLC and Sigfox.
Elliott is providing all the financing for the transaction, including the consideration and ongoing operational finance.
James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones since 2011, will remain as CEO under new ownership, as will his key leadership team.
James Daunt commented, “This is a very happy outcome for Waterstones. Our booksellers can be immensely proud to have proved through good, old-fashioned bookselling, the enduring appeal and worth of real bookshops. I thank Lynwood Investments for their invaluable support through this turnaround, and we enter new ownership looking forward with great optimism to the next chapter in the development of Waterstones”.
Paul Best, Head of European Private Equity at Elliott said, “As the leading physical book retailer in the UK, Waterstones is a mainstay of UK high streets and has a huge and loyal customer base. We look forward to supporting James Daunt and his entire team over the long-term as they continue to build and grow the business”.
Marina Groenberg, CEO of Lynwood, commented, “Waterstones is not only the UK’s leading bookseller but also a much-loved British institution. We are therefore very proud that the business has been restored to profitability and good health during our ownership and thank James Daunt and the wider management team for delivering a successful turnaround. With many exciting opportunities for Waterstones to thrive further, we are enthusiastic to remain as minority shareholders and continue our journey with the UK’s favourite bookshop”.
The transaction is expected to close in early May. The terms are not disclosed.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Waterstones is the UK and Ireland’s leading high street bookseller with 283 shops. It employs over 3,000 booksellers. Waterstones is the only national specialist book retailer of scale in the UK, with the average sized shop carrying a range of around 30,000 individual books and with over 200,000 titles in the largest shop.
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