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Channel 4 Chief Inches Closer to Borders UK Deal

As per Publishing News (and reported earlier this week) the entrepreneur Luke Johnson and his private equity firm Risk Capital Partners was widely expected to take control of Borders, keeping the current CEO David Roche at the helm, closing fewer than 10 stores and retaining the Borders name. Johnson is understood to have taken soundings on Roche from industry insiders this week – the sort of move that is only made when all the deal requirements are in place. One observer told PN: “Although he’s obviously acting out of self-interest and wants to make money, he’s clearly interested in bookselling as a sector. He’s imaginative and feisty, well-regarded when it comes to relatively small scale private equity investments.”

Analyst Richard Ratner at Seymour Pierce described Johnson as “a good egg. He’s got a good reputation and he’s got good people with him. He’ll buy something if it’s got potential.” Insiders say that as Chair of Channel 4, Johnson has seen the potential to boost book sales through Richard & Judy. Those who know him say that he cares about books and their cultural importance, and that he sees Borders “as a business that matters.” One added: “He sees Borders as a strong intrinsic business, one that doesn’t need to be broken up. And because he cares about it, he’ll be willing to accept slightly lower financial returns than in some of his other ventures.”

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