HMV rescue bid wins backing of big guns

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The Independent Online

Global music and film giants have thrown their weight behind a consortium led by Hilco UK, the restructuring firm that is bidding to rescue the entertainment chain HMV out of administration.

Universal Music, Warner Music, Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox, among others, want HMV to survive. They are understood to be willing to trim the prices of CDs and DVDs as well as offer the 223-store retailer more favourable credit terms to help it maintain its 92-year presence on the high street.

The firms are keen to avoid being left at the mercy of the knock-down pricing policies of the big supermarkets, such as Tesco, and the online player Amazon. HMV hired Deloitte as administrator last week. This was followed by the collapse of the 528-store DVD rental firm Blockbuster UK, which already plans to shut 160 shops. The music and film industry consortium is thought to favour the bid by Hilco, which acquired HMV's Canadian operation from the UK entertainment group in 2011. Denby Pottery owner Hilco appears to be the front runner to buy HMV, and talks with Deloitte are set to continue this week.

But the private equity firms Endless and Better Capital and the restructuring company Gordon Brothers are also interested in rescuing parts of HMV. The video games chain Game, owned by the distressed investor OpCapita, is eyeing up as many as 45 of HMV's stores.

Deloitte continues to trade HMV's stores, although some store closures and job losses among its 4,100 staff are inevitable.

Any rescue deal is likely to be complex due to the large and powerful supplier base, the fact that HMV collapsed with debts of £176.1m, and that it has a number of loss-making stores.