Barnes & Noble Completes Sale to Private Fund Manager

Barnes & Noble, America’s largest brick-and-mortar bookseller, Aug. 7 announced the successful closing of its $683 million acquisition by Elliott Advisors Limited, a private fund manager located in the United Kingdom.

Elliott’s purchase follows its 2018 acquisition of Waterstones, the largest retail bookseller in the U.K.

Barnes & Noble operates 627 retail stores across all 50 states, where it remains the #1 retail bookseller in the U.S. The retailer also operates website as well as Nook tablet business, which includes the sale of digital movies and TV shows.

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Elliott seeks to deploy the same strategy it claims turned around Waterstones in an age of ecommerce and Amazon. Elliott will own both Barnes & Noble and Waterstones and, while each bookseller will operate independently, James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, will serve as CEO of both companies and relocate from London to New York.

“This is a very good day for bookselling,” Daunt said in a statement.

“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.”

Paul Best, portfolio manager and head of European private equity at Elliott, said the $38.2 billion fund remains committed to bookselling and “real” bookstores.

“Barnes & Noble has an extraordinary heritage, one that we want to protect and grow,” Best said.

As a result of the merger, Barnes & Noble becomes a privately held subsidiary of Elliott and will cease trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Daunt’s honeymoon could be short-lived.

Barnes & Noble generated a $18.3 million net loss in its most-recent fiscal period, with same-store sales down 2.3%. Quarter sales topped $755 million and $3.6 billion for the fiscal year, down 3.9% and 3% from the prior year periods, respectively.

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