Waterstones has been sold for an undisclosed sum to funds managed by Elliott Advisors UK.
Waterstones chief executive James Daunt, who has steered the retailer to success during its ownership by Russian tycoon Alexander Mamut, will remain in post under the new ownership.
Lynwood Investments, the controlling shareholder of Waterstones since 2011, will retain a minority stake.
Daunt said: “This is a very happy outcome for Waterstones. Our booksellers can be immensely proud to have proved through good, old-fashioned bookselling, the enduring appeal and worth of real bookshops.
“I thank Lynwood Investments for their invaluable support through this turnaround, and we enter new ownership looking forward with great optimism to the next chapter in the development of Waterstones”.
Elliott head of European private equity Paul Best, said: “As the leading physical book retailer in the UK, Waterstones is a mainstay of UK high streets and has a huge and loyal customer base. We look forward to supporting James Daunt and his entire team over the long-term as they continue to build and grow the business”.
Waterstones has 283 stores in the UK and in Ireland, The Netherlands and Belgium.
Elliott is providing all the financing for the transaction, including the consideration and ongoing operational finance.
The deal is expected to complete early next month.
Other Elliott investments include a stake in computer entertainment retailer Game.