On The Block

Investment firm Wasserstein & Co. is considering a sale of its trade publishing company ALM, previously called American Lawyer Media. Credit Suisse is helping explore strategic options for the company. A sale of ALM, which owns and publishes 34 national and regional magazines and newspapers geared toward the legal and real estate industries, could reportedly fetch up to $700 million. Some of ALM’s better-known titles include The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, The National Law Journal and Real Estate Forum. Wasserstein & Co. founded the New York company in 1997 with an equity investment from its buyout fund, U.S. Equity Partners LP. The company is said to generate about $55 million in profits per year.

Troubled textile company Hancock Fabrics Inc. (NYSE:HKF) could end up in the crosshairs of turnaround-minded buyout shops. The company, which specializes in decorative textiles, sewing accessories, needlecraft supplies and sewing machines, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month. Baldwyn, Miss.-based Hancock sells its ware though brick-and-mortar retail outlets as well as online. The company received approval for a $105 million DIP financing from Wachovia Bank N.A., its main lender, to help navigate its way through Chapter 11. It also reached an agreement with another, as of yet unnamed, lender for an additional loan of up to $17.5 million. Hancock Fabrics plans to liquidate 134 stores to help pay of the secured debt previously issued to it by Wachovia. According to a January SEC filing, the company operates 403 retail stores in 40 states.

Borders Group Inc. has hired financial advisors to explore options for the majority of the book retailer’s international operations, including its Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and U.K. superstores and Books etc. business. Overall, Border’s international segment has taken a hit in the last year, reporting an operating loss of $135.9 million for the 12 months ended Feb. 3, 2007, compared to operating income of $6.4 million for the prior year. The United Kingdom represents approximately 70 percent of Borders’s total international segment sales. Merrill Lynch & Co. has been tapped to assist in the process for the company’s U.K. and Ireland businesses as well as Books etc., while KPMG’s Corporate Finance practice is advising on the Australia and New Zealand businesses. International operations not affected include Borders’s Paperchase business, Puerto Rico stores, and its franchise operations in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

Shortly after the resignation of Openwave Systems Inc.’s President and CEO David Peterschmidt, the software company’s board of directors announced it hired Merrill Lynch & Co. to help it review strategic alternatives. Openwave, which specializes in software products for the communications industry, trades on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol “OPWV.” The Redwood City, Calif.-based company has been reporting quarterly drops in revenues. For its second quarter of 2007, ended Dec. 31, 2006, Openwave reported revenues of $84.2 million, down from $104.5 million in the same quarter in fiscal 2006, and $91.5 million for Q1 2007 ended Sept. 30, 2006. Robert Vrij, formerly Openwave’s executive vice president of worldwide field operations, has replaced Peterschmidt as president and CEO.