May 2: You need a heart of stone not to laugh, but Tim Waterstone has failed yet again in his attempt to buy back the bookshop chain that bears his name for £280m. For nine years he has tried to regain control of the business. Alas, his quest has had more arbitrary twists than a John Buchan novel: this time he is blaming HMV, which owns Waterstone’s, for imposing too onerous conditions on him. Lazard Private Equity Partners, who were backing him, seem to have given up a bit easily. Those interested in whether bookstores can compete with the online booksellers might like to look at

Premier Foods, whose list of brands reads like a 1970s pub menu, has confirmed its interest in bidding for parts of United Biscuits and also says it is looking at some of Campbell Soup’s operations, likely to include Batchelors soups and Homepride sauces. It is a compliment to Premier’s management that the stock is up 3 per cent on this. The announcement follows our story on Saturday that Premier was part of a consortium which was at the very early stages of considering a bid for UB. These sorts of brands can arouse strong passions. Just go to or or even

House of Fraser shares are up 9 per cent on news of the takeover approach from Baugur.

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