Barnes & Noble Founder Proposes To Buy Company’s Retail Business

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Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) founder chairman Leonard Riggio said in a regulatory filing that he has approached the company board to buy Barnes & Noble’s retail business and the website.

Riggio is not interested in Nook Media which is the company’s digital unit, e-reader business and college bookstore chains. Nook Media generated about 50 percent of the company total sales of $1.88 billion in the second quarter.

Barnes & Noble Founder Proposes To Buy Company's Retail Business

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Riggio is the largest shareholder in the company with about a 30 percent stake. Riggio founded Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) in 1970s and helped it grow into one of the nation’s largest bookstore chains.

He didn’t disclose the price he expects to pay, but Mr. Riggio did say that he will finance the deal with cash and debt. Barnes & Noble has been struggling as readers are increasingly shifting to digital media and competition from online retailers and discount stores is increasing.

Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) said it has formed a committee of three independent directors to evaluate the proposal of Mr Riggio. The directors may also negotiate a deal.

The company is already planning to spin off the Nook Media unit into a separate company. Barnes & Noble has invested heavily in Nook e-reader. The bookseller struck a deal with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) when Microsoft purchased 17.6 percent stake in Nook.

British publisher Pearson PLC (NYSE:PSO) (LON:PSON) has also acquired 5 percent stake in Nook. Both the deal value Nook Media at about $1.7 billion, even though Barnes & Noble Inc’s market capitalization is less than $800 million.

Unfortunately, Nook is finding it hard to compete with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad Mini, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s Kindle and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Nexus.

The company expects Nook’s revenues to fall below $3 billion, and losses to be greater than $262 million posted in 2012. Nook sales also plunged 12.6 percent to $311 million in the crucial holiday period. Barnes & Noble Inc. will announce its third quarter results on Thursday.

Peter Wahlstrom, analyst at Morningstar, said that the retail unit is mature and declining, but it’s still profitable.

Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) shares were up 8.51 percent to $14.66 at 10:41 AM EST today.