Barnes & Noble has just received a buyout offer from G Asset Management, a little-known private investment firm. This firm is looking to acquire a 51% stake in the bookseller, and they're willing to put up $672 million, or about $22 a share.
The firm has stated that they plan to spin out the Nook division as a separate venture apart from the retail stores and the college stores. If G Asset Management cannot buy B&N, they made a second offer for the just a controlling interest in Nook Media at $5 a share.
Barnes & Noble stock price jumped at the news, but it is still trading below $18 a share at this time.
If you've been following bookselling news for any length of time then G Asset Management is a name you might recognize; they made a similar offer in 2012. At that time they wanted a 51% interest in B&N College, the division that runs college bookstores. That deal fell through, with B&N instead choosing to form Nook Media by combining the Nook unit and B&N College, and selling a chunk to Microsoft and Pearson.
And last November, G Assett Management proposed separating the Nook business in a deal that would have valued the retailer at $20 a share. That deal also fell through.
Len Riggio, chairman of B&N, made his own attempt to take control of B&N and split the company in 2013. he wanted to take the retail stores private and let the rump of B&N go its own way. He later withdraw his plans after winning some unknown internal power struggle.
B&N has yet to comment on the offer, but they have confirmed that they received it.
IMO, they would be fools not to accept. I think they should have take the earlier offer. This would have set them free from their most toxic asset, the Nook platform, while also giving the retail chain an infusion of much needed capital.
B&N's revenues have continued to decline over the past few years, with the most recent holiday season showing a 6.6% decline in sales, with the digital sales showing an even steeper decline.
But B&N being B&N, I am also going to put money on their declining to sell the Nook unit. I also don't think that G Asset Management has much of a chance of gaining a controlling interest in B&N; Len Riggio is the single largest stockholder and at one point last he controlled around 45% of the company. That's going to make it really easy for him to block this deal.
Update: And it looks like Riggio might not have to offer. According to Bloomberg, GAsset Management only has a few million in assets, not the nearly $700 million it would take to carry out this deal.