Booktopia faces bidding war as deadline nears

Company News

by Peter Milios

Booktopia (ASX:BKG), once a shining star on the ASX, now finds itself at the center of a fierce bidding war as potential buyers vie to rescue the beleaguered book retailer from administration.

With expressions of interest due this Thursday and firm offers expected next Tuesday, McGrathNicol, overseeing the sale, hopes to secure a deal that will either sell off or recapitalize Booktopia, which collapsed under financial strain just last week.

The company's recent troubles stem from a failed attempt to secure crucial financing amidst dwindling cash reserves. Auditors from RSM Australia had already flagged concerns about Booktopia's financial health after reporting a significant $16.7 million loss in the second half of 2023, leaving only $1.6 million available for loan repayments.

Despite these challenges, McGrathNicol is optimistic, emphasizing Booktopia's assets, including a sophisticated distribution center in Sydney designed to streamline operations and cut costs, though its construction strained the company's finances.

A diverse array of potential buyers has emerged, eager to capitalize on Booktopia's extensive customer base of over 1.2 million monthly active users and valuable publisher relationships. Among the frontrunners are QBD Books from Brisbane, online giant, and digiDirect, expanding from consumer electronics into new markets.

Dymocks, a longstanding player in the bookselling industry, has also shown interest in Booktopia's assets, excluding its brand. This surge in interest underscores the competitive landscape as buyers position themselves to acquire Booktopia's infrastructure and market presence.

For McGrathNicol, finding a buyer would mark the end of Booktopia's tumultuous four-year tenure on the ASX, marked by internal strife and ill-timed acquisitions. Once trading at highs of $3 during the pandemic boom, Booktopia's stock has plummeted to just 4.5 cents, reflecting the erosion of shareholder value since its $43.1 million IPO at $2.30.

As the bidding deadline looms, the fate of Booktopia hangs in the balance, poised between a potential revival under new ownership and the final chapter of its public listing.

Peter Milios

Peter Milios is a recent graduate from the University of Technology - majoring in Finance and Accounting. Peter is currently working under equity research analyst Di Brookman for Corporate Connect Research.

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