Barnes & Noble Inc. confirmed Monday that company founder and chairman Leonard Riggio has told the bookseller’s board that he plans to make a bid for B&N’s retail business.
The Wall Street Journal, citing sources close to the situation, reported Sunday that Riggio was considering buying the unit—which does not include either the e-book division that sells the Nook tablet or the company’s college bookstore business. In confirming that it has been approached by Riggio, the Barnes & Noble board said it has hired Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison as its legal adviser to help evaluate the forthcoming proposal.
The New York–based Paul Weiss team advising the board includes corporate chair Robert Schumer, corporate partners Justin Hamill and Stephen Lamb, and corporate associate D. Gordon Cruess.
Riggio said in a Monday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that he would negotiate the price of his proposal with the board, but did not specify when he would make a formal offer. Riggio, whose roughly 30 percent stake in the company makes him its largest shareholder, is looking to acquire the Barnes & Noble Booksellers unit, as well as barnesandnoble.com and various other retail-related assets. The retail unit includes 689 bookstores in the United States.
O’Melveny & Myers M&A partner Paul Scrivano is advising Riggio on the proposed bid. Scrivano also worked as Riggio’s counsel in 2011 when entertainment conglomerate Liberty Media Corporation made a $1.02 billion takeover bid for Barnes & Noble. That deal ultimately collapsed after months of negotiations, with Liberty deciding instead to invest $204 million in the company later that year.
Bloomberg reports that Barnes & Noble’s bookstore business could be worth roughly $484.5 million and pegged the entire company’s value at about $2.3 billion. The retail unit has struggled in recent years amid steep competition from its rivals’ digital book sales. In yet another blow, the company announced earlier this month that even its Nook sales have fallen short of projections.
Last April, Microsoft Corp. invested $300 million in the company’s Nook Media tablet business, valuing that unit at $1.7 billion. The Barnes & Noble board said last year that it was also considering spinning off the e-book business.