A fund advised by Elliott Advisors (UK) Limited has agreed to acquire Barnes & Noble, the largest retail bookseller in the U.S., for $6.50 per share in cash (approximately $683 million) including the assumption of debt. In June 2018, Elliott acquired Waterstones, the largest retail bookseller in the U.K. Waterstones CEO James Daunt will also become Barnes & Noble CEO and be based in New York. However, the two companies will operate independently, according to the announcement.
“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,” said Leonard Riggio, founder and chairman of Barnes & Noble, who supports the deal. “I am also confident that James Daunt has the leadership ability and experience necessary to lead this great organization.”
The sale comes after a strategic review conducted by a Barnes & Noble special committee and is subject to regulatory and stockholder approval. In the announcement, Elliott said it plans to apply the model that turned around Waterstones to the struggling Barnes & Noble, which has been hit hard by the e-commerce revolution.
“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 unrivaled bookselling skills of these two great companies,” Daunt said. “As a place in which to choose a book, and for the sheer pleasure of visiting, we know that a good bookstore has no equal.”