Borders’ midnight madness sale

March 20, 2008

clapton.jpgU.S. book retailer Borders Group announced in the wee hours of Thursday morning that it is suspending its quarterly dividend and launching a strategic review to investigate selling the business. JP Morgan and Merrill Lynch are advising Borders on the possible sale. The company also said it had received a $42.5 million financing commitment from Pershing Square Capital Management and an offer to purchase some of its international businesses, pursuant to a $125 million backstop purchase commitment. With that new cash at hand, surely Borders can afford a better press release timeslot than 1 a.m. EST?

Bear Stearns’ top shareholder Joseph Lewis is hoping that another suitor will emerge to challenge JPMorgan, but his best hope may be prying a few extra dollars from JPMorgan itself. Lewis said in a filing he is prepared to “take whatever action is necessary” to protect his investment. But industry watchers are sceptical anything can be done, and Bear Stearns shares have come off their midweek high in what could be a sign of waning optimism about a higher price.

Dresdner Kleinwort, the corporate and investment banking arm of Dresdner Bank, is looking to potentially raise capital from Chinese banks and sovereign wealth funds once its formal separation from Dresdner’s retail banking activities is complete next year, the FT reports. One candidate that Dresdner’s parent, insurer Allianz, might want to consider: CITIC Securities, left with an empty dancecard in the wake of Bear Stearns’ collapse.

Sundance Channel, the joint venture owned by CBS, NBC Universal and Sundance founder Robert Redford, is on the block, according to Pali Research analyst Rich Greenfield. Time Warner, Viacom and Cablevision are seen as potential bidders for the channel, which has a valuation of roughly $400 million, Greenfield said.

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