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Elliott Completes Purchase of B&N

9 August 2019

From Publishers Weekly:

Elliott Advisors has completed its purchase of Barnes & Noble. First announced June 7, the acquisition was officially completed when more than 81% of B&N’s shares were tendered by the August 6 deadline.

As a result of the deal, B&N becomes a private company controlled by the private equity firm Elliott Advisors, which also owns the U.K. bookstore chain Waterstones. As a result of the acquisition, for which Elliott paid $6.50 per share in a deal valued at $683 million, James Daunt, head of Waterstones, will run both the U.K. chain and B&N. B&N founder Len Riggio will have no formal role in company.

In announcing the completion of the deal, Elliot said that Daunt, while continuing to serve as Waterstones CEO, will relocate from London to New York. Daunt has acknowledged that he will face a learning curving on how the American bookselling business works.

In a prepared statement, Daunt said: “This is a very good day for bookselling. Barnes & Noble is the greatest of all bookstore names and will now benefit from the support of an owner committed to physical bookselling. With investment and concentration on the core principles of good bookselling, the prospects for this extraordinary company are bright. I look forward very much to working with the booksellers at Barnes & Noble.”

In an interview with PW at the time the purchase announcement was made, Daunt said that Elliott expects to sell B&N at some point, but before they can do that, they will need to make the bookseller “shinier, bigger, and better.” To accomplish that goal, Elliott will need to make some investments.”The simple fact is that B&N needs money: people want to shop in places that look modern, clean, and inviting. The B&N stores look tired and need a little botox.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG says you won’t have Len Riggio to kick around anymore.

The new CEO is arriving from England and undoubtedly has sizeable financial incentives to quickly pretty up BN so it can be sold to yet another owner within a few years.

Talented younger persons seeking a satisfying and financially-rewarding career may wish to look elsewhere.  The new boss is going to be the old boss fairly quickly and there’s no assurance that his replacement will know much more than Daunt does about how to compete against Amazon in the United States.

 

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10 Comments to “Elliott Completes Purchase of B&N”

  1. Well, whether Elliot is planning to “flip” the property or not, B&N may still head downhill. It depends on how much Daunt learns about the “American bookselling business” – the less he does, the better chance he has of turning things around.

  2. Interesting fact:
    Back around 1995 B&N actually had a deal to buy Ingram for $600M that was blocked on antitrust concerns. Top two in book distribution. That would be $1B in 2019 money, or a third more than B&N *and its logistics business* went for.

    Big discount.

  3. Barnes & Noble is the greatest of all bookstore names

    That’s rather like being the leper with the most remaining fingers. Neither is a distinction to brag about.

  4. The New York Times also has a long, dewy-eyed story about this:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/08/books/watersones-barnes-and-noble-james-daunt.html

    … and the commenters are tripping over themselves to gush.

    • “Amazon can tell you what you might like based on what you’ve already purchased, but it doesn’t spotlight unknown books that deserve a wide audience. It can’t make a literary star, something Waterstones now does with regularity.”

      They clearly haven’t heard of First Reads.
      Or the ads on tablets and readers.

      Or maybe their hatred of Amazon means they don’t go to the website, so tbey don’t really know how Amazon runs its book sales.

  5. Nothing in this article or the NY Times article gives even a hint of what dedicated readers who don’t happen to live in or near a big city can do if they want books to read. the best and the only solution for dedicated readers everywhere (even abroad) is ebooks and the best store for that is amazon. Until something better comes along, that is the situation.

  6. “but it doesn’t spotlight unknown books that deserve a wide audience”

    Which differentiates Amazon from chain bookstores…how, exactly?

    • In that Amazon lets *all* unknown books get to market and the BPHs only ship a few?

      Finding readers is a wee bit harder if you can’t actually get in front of the readers.

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