June 10, 2019
Waterstone’s owners swoop in to buy B&N at the last minute
by Alex Primiani
The monopolization of the publishing industry continues, this time with the recent announcement that international hedge fund, Elliott Management, has purchased the Barnes & Noble bookstore chain for “roughly $683 million, including debt,” according to Lauren Hirsch for CNBC.
That “all cash transaction” is valued at $6.50 per share, though a bump in share price occurred after the announcement last Friday morning. Hirsch lists out the recent financial woes of Barnes & Noble, writing, “Its shares had fallen roughly 25% year to date before the news leak. Within the past five years, Barnes & Noble has lost more than $1 billion in market value.”
Elliott Management isn’t new to our dying industry. Melville House UK Managing Director Nikki Griffiths wrote of the firm’s other well-known sale last spring, when they purchased the UK’s last remaining chain bookstore, Waterstone’s.
According to Hirsch, the firm does believe it will keep the two companies and their trajectories separate. Though, as she observes, “Owning the two book retailing giants could give Elliott synergies and buying leverage with publishers, people familiar with the industry say.”
The firm is bringing in Waterstones CEO James Daunt to oversee the new “merger,” as they’re calling it. Griffiths dives into who Daunt is in her piece, writing “Daunt owned a chain of successful independent bookshops (inspiringly named Daunt Books) across west London and was lauded as the possible Waterstones saviour … the fruits of Daunt’s labour are showing.”
Alex Primiani is the associate director of publicity at Melville House.