Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the US, has been sold to Elliot Management Corporation, the same hedge fund that purchased leading UK bookseller Waterstones in June 2018. Waterstones CEO James Daunt will take over as CEO of B&N when the deal is complete and plans to relocate to New York. The all-cash transaction is valued at around $683 million — $6.50 a share, plus the assumption of B&N’s debt.
Barnes & Noble has been seeking new ownership for some time, and the board of directors voted unanimously to approve the deal and recommend it to the company’s shareholders. Leonard Riggio, founder and chairman of B&N, 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 organization. I will do everything I can to help him make the transition smooth.”
Daunt said, “I look forward greatly to working with the booksellers at Barnes & Noble. Physical bookstores the world over face fearsome challenges from online and digital. We meet these with investment and with all the more confidence for being able to draw on the unrivalled bookselling skills of these two great companies.”
The deal still needs stockholder and regulatory approval, but is expected to be concluded later this year.