Baker & Taylor being shopped by Goldman Sachs.

Baker & Taylor, the books, video and music wholesaler based in Charlotte, N.C., is up for sale, sources say.

Nearly 30 months after Willis Stein & Partners acquired the wholesaler in June 2003, the Chicago-based investment firm has hired Goldman Sachs to shop the distributor, which is said to have about $1.5 billion in revenues.

Willis Stein paid $255 million to acquire the wholesaler, buying it from another financial firm, the Carlyle Group, which had bought the company from W.R. Grace & Co., in 1992. It funded the acquisition with an $115 million equity investment and by drawing down $140 million from the company's $200 million revolving credit facility, provided by LaSalle Bank Business Credit.

Baker & Taylor referred an inquiry on the topic to Willis Stein, which didn't return calls for comment. People familair with the company say that while they are unaware of any activy to unload the company, there is always the potential for the wholesaler to be up for sale, since it is a financial institution with its purpose being to grow in value and cash out.

Since it was acquired, Baker & Taylor has become more aggressive in growing its business. In particular, it became more of a force in music wholesaling as well as serving as a direct-to-consumer fulfillment house for online stores. In addition to organic growth, the company also has made inquiries this year at some smaller music and video wholesalers to see if they were interested in selling, sources say.

Sources suggest that its music sales stand at about $125 million, up from the $75 million the company had when it was first acquired. It is the second largest one-stop and fourth largest music wholesaler in the U.S. The bulk of its business, however, is believed to be in providing books to retail stores and libraries.

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