End of Waterstone’s saga near

PPM Ventures is thought to be close to emerging as preferred bidder for the UK book seller.

Waterstone's, the UK book store chain owned by EMI's music retailer HMV Media and private equity provider Advent International, is close to being bought by PPM Ventures, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reports.

PPM, the private equity unit of insurer Prudential, is thought to have secured preferred bidder status and hence be close to the purchase of Waterstone's, which has 70 book stores and publishes around 200 academic journals.

If successful, PPM will have beaten competitors such as restaurant entrepreneur Luke Johnson and Borders, the US book seller.

According to the newspaper, PPM may not necessarily buy the whole of Waterstone's. It is believed to be considering keeping EMI and Advent involved in the business whilst giving them the option to make a partial exit from their original investments.

In March of this year, PPM was backing the £180m offer for Waterstone's of from its founder Tim Waterstone. At the time HMV rejected the bid as too low and badly structured.