Boosey & Hawkes receives overtures from new bidder

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The Independent Online

Boosey & Hawkes, the music publisher which has been trying to find a buyer for two years, yesterday saw another bidder make itself known just one day after it recommended a management buyout.

HgCapital, a private equity firm, said in a statement it was "seriously considering" offering more than the 195p a share deal put on the table by Regent Street Music, which values one of Britain's most famous names in the music world at £40.1m. Boosey & Hawkes' shares rose 7 per cent to 205p.

Regent Street music was formed by John Minch, the head of publishing at the company and backed by two other buyout groups, Stirling Square Capital Partners and European Acquisition Capital.

HgCapital is understood to have already privately suggested a possible offer at around 205p for the company, though it is thought to have said the price was subject to due diligence.

Yesterday, HgCapital said it had "requested the co-operation of the board of Boosey & Hawkes to enable it to confirm its position." It added: "HgCapital is confident it will be able to clarify definitively within three weeks whether or not it intends to make such an offer."

Boosey & Hawkes responded saying: "It is a very interesting development which the board will consider very carefully."

The company felt it should recommend the Regent Street Music offer because it was the only concrete one it had, but is expected to allow HgCapital to do due diligence on its books in the hope that it will firm up its higher offer.

HgCapital has been involved in the Boosey & Hawkes auction for some time and was thought to be working on a bid with David Hockman, a former PolyGram employee who joined Sony last month. HgCapital declined to name the managers who are now leading its bid but said it would update shareholders on its progress on 26 September.

A spokesperson for Regent Street Music said: "Ours is the only formal offer on the table and it has the recommendation of the board."

Boosey & Hawkes, which owns the music rights to composers such as Sergei Rachmaninov and Igor Stravinsky, is expected to make a formal statement in the next few days.

The music publisher founded in the 1760s became a takeover target in 2000 after it discovered its Chicago arm had racked up £12m of bad debt supplying customers who could not pay. The London company sold its music instruments business - which made the bass guitar used by Sir Paul McCartney when he was in The Beatles - for £33.2m.