From The Wall Street Journal:
Barnes & Noble Inc. is nearing a deal to be bought by hedge fund Elliott Management Corp., according to people familiar with the matter, as the nation’s largest bookstore chain seeks a new owner after years of decline.
Elliott is the lead bidder in an auction that could come to a head soon, the people said. It is expected to pay $6.50 a share, one of the people said. The stock closed at $5.96, up 30% on Thursday after The Wall Street Journal reported that a deal with Elliott could be imminent. Barnes & Noble had a market value of $436 million as of Thursday’s close.
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The acquisition wouldn’t be the first foray into bookstores for Elliott, which bought U.K. book chain Waterstones last year. Should Elliott prevail, the $35 billion New York hedge fund is likely to maintain Barnes & Noble and Waterstones as two separate companies with Waterstones Chief Executive James Daunt leading both, some of the people said. Mr. Daunt declined to comment.
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Barnes & Noble has suffered significant management turnover in recent years while struggling to compete with Amazon.com Inc. and the resurgence of independent bookstores that have proved adept at catering to local tastes with curated offerings.
The company, with 627 stores nationwide, remains a critical partner to publishers, who depend on it to help promote and showcase established writers as well as up-and-coming authors. The issue of discovery—how consumers find writers they were otherwise unfamiliar with—is one of the biggest challenges facing the publishing industry.
Barnes & Noble shares have traded at record lows recently as investors lose confidence in the company’s ability to execute a successful turnaround. Its market capitalization is well below the roughly $3 billion the company was worth before the financial crisis.
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Under Mr. Daunt, Waterstones rebounded from a period of losses and—unlike many other retailers—has been opening new stores, which it fashions to feel like independent shops.
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)