Waterstones owner Elliott to buy Barnes & Noble in $683m deal

Credit
Eric Thayer_Bloomberg

Credit Eric Thayer_Bloomberg

Parneros sued Barnes & Noble last August, saying the company falsely accused him of violating its sexual harassment policy before terminating him without severance.

Barnes & Noble Inc said on Friday it would be bought by hedge fund Elliott Management Corp for $475.8 million (373.65 million pounds), marking the end of the once-dominant USA book retailer as a public company after years of falling sales.

Elliott said it would pursue a strategy similar to the one used at Waterstones, which included "investment in their store estate and the empowerment of local bookselling teams". Under the terms of the deal, shareholders will receive $6.50 per share in cash for their Barnes & Noble stock, and the bookseller said that the agreement was the natural end result of its strategic alternatives review, which had been going on for roughly eight months. This also includes any debt that Barnes & Noble have incurred over the years.

Elliott Management also owns the United Kingdom bookstore chain Waterstones.

Elliott, which acquired Waterstones - the UK's biggest book retailer - last year, will pay $6.50 per share for the USA chain.

James Daunt, the chief executive of Waterstones, will also assume the role of CEO of Barnes & Noble once the transaction has completed, and will be based in NY.

Waterstones has since gone on to acquire fellow book retailer Foyles.

That model centered around CEO Daunt and his aggressive (for a business that had been pushed to the brink of extinction) expansion plan: open more stores. Elliott took over Waterstones about a year ago.

"Physical bookstores the world over face fearsome challenges from online and digital", Daunt said in a statement. "As a place in which to choose a book, and for the sheer pleasure of visiting, we know that a good bookstore has no equal". (NYSE:BKS) by 57.0% in the first quarter, according to the company in its most recent 13F filing with the SEC.

About 90 minutes ahead of Friday's opening bell, Barnes & Noble stock traded up more than 10%, at $6.57 in a 52-week range of $4.11 to $7.81, and the low was posted Thursday.

Last year, the New York-based company was mired in legal drama involving Demos Parneros, the bookseller's former chief executive. The consensus price target on the stock was $6.50.

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