March 31 (Reuters) - Web search provider Blucora Inc is set to challenge Spencer Spirit Holdings Inc's bid for consumer electronics retailer Brookstone Inc , the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Blucora plans to merge Brookstone with Monoprice, the online seller of electronics accessories it bought last year, the newspaper said. (http://link.reuters.com/gut97v)
Brookstone, which has battled disappointing sales and weak liquidity, has $140 million in debt, the Journal said.
The company, which had been looking for a potential buyer, said last week it was working with the owner of Spencer's retail chain for a sale of the company and was planning to file for bankruptcy to facilitate the process.
Blucora is likely to offer a material premium to Spencer's bid at the bankruptcy auction for Brookstone, which sells products ranging from massage chairs to bathroom slippers, the Journal said.
Blucora owns metasearch engines, including WebCrawler, and TaxACT, and online tax solutions provider.
Spencer, whose offer includes $120 million in cash and assumption of Brookstone's debt, was completing paperwork to be a "stalking horse bidder" at Brookstone's bankruptcy auction, the business daily reported, citing a Brookstone spokeswoman.
"Stalking horse bids" set baseline offers for the assets and are still subject to auctions.
Blucora spokeswoman Stacy Ybarra told Reuters, "We don't comment on speculations or rumors."
Brookstone and Spencer could not immediately be reached outside regular U.S. business hours.
Brookstone was taken private in 2005 by a group led by Osim - Asia's biggest maker of massage chairs - in a $445 million deal. The group included Temasek Holdings and private equity firm JW Childs Associates LP.
(Reporting by Arnab Sen in Bangalore)