Fate of HMV to be decided as rent bill expected

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STRICKEN music retailer HMV’s fate is close to being decided as administrators push for a deal ahead of a multi-million pound rent bill due to arrive tomorrow.

Restructuring specialist Hilco is said to be the sole bidder in the frame for what remains of HMV, which is closing more than 100 of the 220 stores it had when it went into administration in January.

Although terms for many of HMV’s remaining shops have been re-negotiated to monthly rents, tomorrow’s quarterly payment deadline is still said to be “significant”.

Hilco declined to comment last week on the likelihood of striking a deal, which could include it “cherry-picking” a few selected stores from HMV’s Fopp subsidiary. The group has reportedly put together an offer in the region of £50 million, though there is no guarantee that a sale will go ahead.

Hilco, which bought HMV Canada in 2011, has bought up most of the UK chain’s bank debt and is thus negotiating with administrators Deloitte as both a bidder and a creditor.

HMV had debts of £347m when it went into administration, including £237m owed to unsecured creditors who will not be repaid. Some 1,500 jobs are being lost as a result of store closures.

The group went to the wall after a prolonged and ineffective battle to overcome the rise of online sales, digital downloading and cut-price competition from supermarket chains.