Liberty Media has made an offer for $17 per share the Barnes & Noble book chain. That amount represents a 20.4 percent premium over Thursday’s closing price of $14.11, which works out to approximately $980 million purchase price.
Barnes & Noble announced the proposal via a press release that states the Special Committee of the Board of Directors that was formed to assess offers since the company put itself in play last Aug. is looking over the deal. The sale is contingent on Founding Chairman Leonard Riggio continuing to participate in the day-to-day operations of the company.
The company had put itself up for sale last year, but in the past few weeks it had been discussed that it was going to move ahead as is due to the fact that no offers had been coming in. “There’s not much to like,” Brian Sozzi, Wall Street Strategies’ retail analyst told Bloombergs in March. “One thing I’ve learned in retail is once the model starts to go against you it’s tough to pull yourself out. Assets on their books are losing value so quickly. Other than Riggio, I don’t know who else would want it.”
I have to say that I can’t disagree with Mr. Sozzi. Barnes & Noble still has 705 retail stores and 636 college bookstores run through a subsidiary. While Barnes & Noble does have the Nook and Nook Color, it is still firmly entrenched in selling physical books, which are losing more and more ground to e-books. Even Amazon has now announced it is selling more books via the Kindle than it is traditional books. Since Liberty Media wants the continued involvement of Mr Riggio, one has to assume they want to continue the company in at least some semblance of its current form, but how sustainable that is in the current transition of the marketplace is questionable.
The sale of the company is still not a definite deal, but it does look quite probable. Now comes the question of where it goes from here.
What do you think about buying into the book market at a time like this?