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Retailer HMV announces sale of Waterstone’s books to Russian

Britain’s struggling entertainment group HMV announced on Friday a deal to sell its book shop chain Waterstone’s to Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut for £53 million (60 million euros, $86 million).

HMV said it was selling Britain’s biggest book chain to A&NN Capital Fund Management Ltd., a company controlled by a trust in which Mamut has an interest.

“We are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement to acquire Waterstone’s and its great heritage,” Mamut said in a statement.

HMV chief executive Simon Fox said the cash sale would enable HMV “to achieve a reduction in the group’s borrowing requirements, and, in turn, focus on plans for transforming the… group into a broad-based entertainment business.”

HMV, whose eponymous stores sell music, DVDs and computer games, has issued three profit warnings this year and on Friday it revealed that sales at HMV’s UK and Ireland stores fell 18.8 percent in the 17 weeks to the end of April. Sales at Waterstone’s 296 stores dropped 11.3 percent over the same period.