June 12, 2019

The plot thickens in the bid to buy Barnes & Noble


Early this week, we wrote that “Elliott Management, has purchased the Barnes & Noble bookstore chain for ‘roughly $683 million, including debt,’ according to Lauren Hirsch for CNBC.”

Elliott Management, most notably, is the firm behind the UK’s largest (and last) bookstore chain, Waterstones.

But stop the presses! The deal is not quite done, and there are whispers of some new competition from Readerlink, an American book distribution company that is already sending books to some of the places you buy them.

As Jim Milliot now asks for Publishers Weekly:

Is a bidding war breaking out for Barnes & Noble? According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Readerlink is considering putting together a bid to top the $6.50 per share offer made by Elliott Advisors. Readerlink had previously been reported as having an interest in buying the bookstore chain. No parties connected to the B&N-Readerlink deal would comment on the report.

Under the direction of Dennis Abboud, Readerlink has moved aggressively to consolidate its position as the largest distributor of books to a wide range on non-bookstore accounts, including Target, Toys R Us, Walmart, warehouse clubs, drugstores, and food stores. The purchase of B&N would add a completely new dimension to Readerlink.

Barnes and Noble is indeed in a position to accept a new deal from Readerlink, though it will come with a penalty payment owed to Elliott Management if their deal falls through.

Since news of the original deal, Barnes and Noble stock has been tilting upward. Now, with Readerlink sniffing around, that trend continues to rise.

Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.