22 January 2013 Last updated at 11:28 ET
Restructuring specialist Hilco has taken effective control of music and DVD retailer HMV.
Hilco, which already owns HMV Canada, has bought the debt of HMV from the group’s lenders, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland.
The debt deal paves the way for Hilco to gain full control of HMV. A further announcement is expected later.
HMV has been hit by competition from online rivals, supermarkets, and illegal music and film downloads.
HMV’s estimated debt was about £176m, but Hilco is believed to have paid much less than this to acquire it because the retail chain is in administration.
It is understood that the debt had to be purchased as a prerequisite to taking full control of HMV. A source told the BBC that an announcement about the completion of the purchase could come as early as Tuesday evening.
Hilco said in a statement: “Hilco UK confirms that it has acquired HMV’s debt from the group’s lenders. It has not bought the business itself.
“Hilco believes there to be a viable underlying HMV business and will now be working closely with Deloitte who, as administrators, are reviewing the business to determine future options.”
An industry group of music labels and film studios, including Universal Music and Sony, were reported on Monday to favour a buyout of HMV by Hilco.
Hilco bought out HMV Canada from parent HMV group in 2011 for £2m, and this history means suppliers are likely to give a Hilco-owned HMV in the UK more favourable credit terms.
In Canada, Hilco said the support of HMV’s key suppliers had been of “critical importance” to the business’s performance.
HMV has 223 UK stores in total, and a workforce of about 4,000.
On Monday, the administrators for HMV said that the retail chain would start accepting gift vouchers in stores from Tuesday.
Deloitte, which had previously said that gift cards could not be redeemed in stores, said it had made the change after assessing HMV’s financial position.
BBC News – Business
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