The company behind some of Australasia's biggest book chains has confirmed that it is in the market for the Borders Group's assets in the region.

A and R Whitcoulls, which is based in Auckland and listed on the New Zealand stock exchange, revealed that it has applied to the competition watchdog, the New Zealand Commerce Commission, for clearance to acquire 100% of the shares in Borders New Zealand, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the U.S. giant. A similar application has also been lodged with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for Borders' assets in Australia.

Borders operates 20 stores in Australia and four in New Zealand, but is in the process of divesting its international operations. A and R Whitcoulls, which is controlled by acquisitive private equity firm Pacific Equity Partners, owns the 180-strong Angus and Robertson book chain in Australia, together with the 70-store-plus Whitcoulls group in New Zealand.

While the Australian chain focuses primarily on books, Whitcoulls is also a key player in the DVD market, an area which Borders has been particularly strong in. Other leading retail brands in the region are reportedly eyeing up Borders' interests, although they have yet to reveal their hand publicly.