Barnes & Noble Gets Conditional Acquisition Offer

(Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

Barnes & Noble Inc., the last-standing major chain in the national bookstore market, received a conditional proposal from a private investment management firm to take over 51 percent of the company for $22 per share.

The offer came through Thursday night, according to New York firm G Asset Management, which said its suggested price was 31 percent higher than Barnes & Noble’s most recent $16.78-a-share closing price.

But G Asset Management, which said Barnes & Noble is “substantially undervalued in its current form,” said its bid is conditional on due diligence, the ability to obtain financing and the outcome of negotiations.

If Barnes & Noble doesn’t go for G Asset Management’s plan to take over a controlling share of the full company, the investment firm said it has another pitch: to acquire 51 percent of Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader segment.

The proposal, priced at $5 per share, would separate Nook from Barnes & Noble’s more profitable retail and college bookstores business, creating more value for shareholders, according to G Asset Management.

The investment firm had previously made a play for Barnes & Noble, offering $20 per share for 51 percent of the company on Nov. 15. Also last year, Barnes & Noble chairman Leonard S. Riggio abandoned plans to buy the company’s bookstores.

The company said last month that sales during the nine-week period ended Dec. 28 slipped 6.6 percent, to $1.1 billion, from the same time a year earlier. Nook revenue slumped 60.5 percent year over year, to $125 million.