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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 September 2005, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Bookshop bidders raise the stakes
Ottakar's branch
Ottakar's is in demand despite poor recent performance
The founders of UK bookstore chain Ottakar's have increased their offer for the bookstore chain in a bid to head off any rival move from HMV.

Managing director James Heneage and chairman Philip Dunne have tabled a new 4-a-share offer worth 91m ($168m).

Last month, they bid at 350 pence a share, valuing Ottakar's at 78m.

A day before the original management buyout offer, HMV Group said it was in talks to buy Ottakar's, raising the prospect of a bidding war for the firm.

We are pleased to demonstrate our confidence in Ottakar's business through this higher offer
Hugh Lenon, Phoenix

HMV, which already owns leading bookseller Waterstones, said it was "in preliminary discussions... which may or may not lead to an offer".

But a firm bid from the retailer has yet to materialise.

'Attractive' offer

Ottakar's was founded in 1987 and today has 137 stores across the UK.

It has recently struggled against the growth in supermarkets selling books, and the success of online retailers.

Mr Heneage and Mr Dunne's Book Store Acquisitions bid vehicle is being backed by private equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners.

"We are pleased to demonstrate our confidence in Ottakar's business through this higher offer," said Hugh Lenon, managing partner of Phoenix.

"We believe it is at a highly attractive level, offers certainty and has strong shareholder support."

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