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Recession woes for Borders UK and Bertelsmann

There are more signs this week that the beleaguered book-selling chain Borders UK could be up for sale. On Thursday, The Independent reported that owner Luke Johnson has hired a corporate finance firm to seek out new “funding opportunities” for the 51-store chain.

The bookseller, which operates the Borders and Book etc fascias, has hired Clearwater Corporate Finance to run any sale, although a sales memorandum has not yet been sent out. The appointment is the clearest signal yet that the Channel 4 chairman Mr Johnson – whose private equity house Risk Capital Partners acquired Borders UK for £20m in 2007 – is poised to offload the struggling bookseller. Market sources said that Borders UK, which is believed to be loss-making, could be sold for a nominal sum.

Borders UK declined to comment on speculation that it would be put up for sale, but a spokeswoman confirmed it had appointed an adviser to “seek out funding opportunities”. She added: “We will be keeping our staff and suppliers fully appraised of this activity.”

In other recession-related news, Bertelsmann, the company that owns Random House, has denied speculation that it plans to cut as many as 10,000 jobs across its various divisions, though CEO Hartmut Ostrowski has allowed that the company is preparing for “the largest cost cutting program in [Bertelsmann's] history” to cope with the global economic slowdown.

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