Borders' Australasian operations are back in play, following the collapse of a deal with A & R Whitcoulls.

In an announcement to the New Zealand Stock Exchange, the retail group stated that negotiations had ceased and that a transaction between the two companies was now unlikely.

Last month, ARW finally got the green light from Australian competition watchdog to proceed with a deal for Borders' 22 stores; it had previously been given the OK to acquire the four New Zealand outlets. ARW's retail operations are built around the Australian book chain Angus & Robertson, which has 182 outlets, and the 66-strong Whitcoulls chain in New Zealand.

However, it appears that Borders was looking at a part-cash merger that would have seen the U.S.-based company take a stake in ARW. The Australian firm says it was unable to agree terms that would have been acceptable to its shareholders, although it remains open to a 100% acquisition.

Other potential bidders for Borders assets in the region include Dymocks, which has outlets on both sides of the Tasman, the Australian specialist book chain Berkelouw, and the New Zealand-based stationery and news agent group Paper Plus.

However, when contacted by Billboard.biz, Borders' declined to comment on other bidders or what its strategy will be going forward.

In a March 12 statement, Borders' CEO George Jones confirmed that the negotiations with ARW had come to an end. "We will continue to explore meaningful opportunities with the goal of reaching an agreement that meets our company's objectives," he adds.