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Barnes & Noble sold to Waterstones owner Elliott Advisors

In the US, hedge fund Elliott Advisors has agreed to buy bookselling chain Barnes & Noble (B&N), reports Publishers Weekly.

Under the agreement, Elliott will acquire B&N for US$6.50 per share, valuing the company at about US$683 million (A$981m) in an all-cash transaction.

The deal comes after Elliott bought UK chain Waterstones in April 2018. Waterstones CEO James Daunt will take over as B&N CEO once the purchase is complete, which is expected to be in the third quarter of 2019. In a statement, Elliott said that while each bookseller will operate independently, ‘they will share a common CEO and benefit from the sharing of best practice between the companies’.

B&N operates 627 stores across the US. Sales at the chain have steadily declined in recent years, and a sales process for the chain began in October last year following the collapse of a sale to UK chain WHSmith.

Len Riggio, owner of B&N for 54 years, said: ‘We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Elliott, the owner of Waterstones, a bookseller I have admired over the years. In view of the success they have had in the bookselling marketplace, I believe they are uniquely suited to improve and grow our company for many years ahead. I am also confident that James Daunt has the leadership ability and experience necessary to lead this great organisation.’

In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Daunt said his priority with B&N is not to cut costs, but to find a way to arrest the decline in sales and return the company to growth.

‘Elliott expects, at some point, to sell Barnes & Noble for a lot more than they bought it for—they expect to make tons and tons of money,’ said Daunt. ‘But they also know that they will only do that if we can make the business shinier, bigger, and better. To do that, they will need to share some of their treasure with us. The simple fact is that B&N needs money: people want to shop in places that look modern, clean, and inviting. The B&N stores look tired and need a little botox.’


Category: International news