Bookshop chain Waterstones sold to activist hedge fund for undisclosed sum


Waterstones has been acquired by funds managed by Elliott Advisors, for an undisclosed sum.

James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones since 2011 when Russian oligarch Alexander Mamut bought the bookselling chain for £53 million from the HMV Group, will remain as CEO under new ownership, as will his key leadership team.

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.

Founded in 1977, Elliot advisors, the activist hedge fund, has about £35 billion of funds under management worldwide. Its investments include Dell Software, Game Digital and ASG Technologies.

On the purchase, current CEO, Daunt said: “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.”

Lynwood Investments, controlling shareholder of Waterstones since 2011, will retain a minority stake.

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.”

The transaction is expected to close in early May.