Retail chain WH Smith has abandoned the sale of its distribution arm – Britain’s biggest wholesaler of newspapers and magazines – after the buyer, ABN Amro Private Equity, reduced the amount on offer.

Backing a bid led by former WHS directors Terry Reilly and Keith Hammil, ABN Amro was named as the preferred buyer in July with an offer of £215 million [WAMN: 06-Jul-01]. However, this figure is believed to have been slashed by over £15m in recent days, prompting WHS to scrap the deal.

The retailer now plans to hold on to the division, according to chief executive Richard Handover. “We are not a forced or distressed seller and I don’t have a problem with keeping the business,” he said, adding that WHS would not seek out a new buyer.

“If someone makes a sensible, clean offer then we will consider it. But ABN Amro had a view about the value of the business, and it was just very different to ours.”

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