An American vulture fund is reportedly circling stricken HMV in a move that could see it become one of the retailer's biggest creditors.
Wall Street investment business Apollo Global Management has bought more than £20 million of the company's debt, equivalent to over 10% of HMV's outstanding loans, the Sunday Times said.
The move puts Apollo in a strong position to take over the business if it runs into trouble with its debt next year, the report added.
HMV warned last week that it was likely to breach loan agreements in January and April, placing the future of the 238-strong chain under threat.
The company has enjoyed the strong support of suppliers ahead of Christmas but with last week's results showing half-year losses of £36.1 million there are fears it could be forced to close some stores - a plan it has denied.
Having bought £20 million of senior debt from Allied Irish Bank, Apollo is reported to be considering further loan purchases that would eventually see it become one of the company's biggest creditors.
It would then be able to team up with other investors or flip its position to another would-be predator, the report said.
Apollo has around 80 billion US dollars (£50 billion) under management and already owns bingo and casino operator Gala Coral and the estate agency Countrywide. It is also bidding in partnership with rival fund JC Flowers for the branches put up for sale by Royal Bank of Scotland.