Russian oligarch Alexander Mamut is poised to bid £35m for Waterstone’s, half what its troubled owner HMV Group had hoped for.

The deal for the book chain could be finalised this week according to The Sunday Times. If successful Mamut is expected to work with the bookseller’s founder Tim Waterstone to run the chain.

The low price tag is a blow for beleaguered retailer HMV which had put the book chain on the market, along with its Canadian stores, in an attempt to raise cash.

Last month HMV chief executive Simon Fox said it was at risk of breaching loan covenants later this year. It confirmed at the weekend that it is considering a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).