Liberty Media Cuts Majority Stake In Barnes & Noble, Inc.

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Liberty Media Corp (NASDAQ:LMCA) signed an agreement with Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) to reduce a majority of its stake in the bookseller, and it will no longer have the right to appoint two directors to its board.

The media company controlled by John Malone acquired 17% stake in the struggling bookseller for $204 million in 2011. Liberty Media Corp (NASDAQ:LMCA) will retain approximately 10% of its initial investment in Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) and expects to complete the sale of its shares in the bookseller on April 8.

Greg Maffei leaves Barnes & Noble board

Liberty Media president and CEO Greg Maffei will no longer serve on the board of Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) effective April 8. Mark Carleton has been re-elected to serve on the board of the bookseller.

In a statement, Maffei said, “By reducing our preferred position and eliminating some of our related rights, Barnes & Noble will gain greater flexibility to accomplish their strategic objectives. We look forward to maintaining our relationship with the Company and are pleased that Mark Carleton will continue serving on the board.  Mike Huseby and his team are doing a great job in the retail, college and NOOK spaces.”

More flexibility to pursue strategic options

On the other hand, Leonard Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) said the decision of Liberty Media Corp (NASDAQ:LMCA) to reduce ownership provides a greater flexibility for the bookseller to pursue various strategic options.

He added that Malone’s media company has been a strong supporter while Maffei and Carleton have been and continue to be tremendous partners at an important time in the history of the bookseller.

Sales continue to decline

Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) is trying to revive its profitability as it continues to suffer from declining sales. In February, the bookseller reported a 10.3% decline in consolidated revenues to $2 billion for its fiscal third quarter. The sales of its retail segment composed of Barnes & Noble bookstores and also declined 6.3% t0 $1.4 billion.

During the same month, Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) reduced its workforce in its NOOK Hardware engineering unit as part of its effort in realigning the business toward success and value creation in the future. NOOK was the worst performing segment of the company in June last year.

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