The private investment firm G Asset Management said Friday afternoon that it made a proposal to Barnes & Noble Thursday night to acquire a controlling interest in the company in a deal that would value B&N at $22 per share. Before trading began on Friday, B&N’s stock was selling at $16.78 per share. GAM’s offer was to acquire 51% of the entire company, but it also made an offer to acquire 51% of the Nook division in a deal that would value that segment at $5 per share.
GAM said in its announcement that in its proposal it stated that “it was extremely confident that if the Nook segment is separated from the profitable retail and college business, substantial shareholder value would be created.” The Nook segment lost $121 million in the first six months of the current fiscal year. But while B&N breaks out the Nook results separately, Nook is part of Nook Media, which also includes the college stores. Last year B&N chairman Len Riggio considered, and then withdraw, interest in buying just the trade bookstores.
B&N acknowledged it had received the proposal, but had no comment beyond that. The company is set to report its quarterly earnings on Wednesday. Any deal still has a long way to go, with GAM noting that among other conditions, it needs to obtain the necessary financing, conduct due diligence, reach an agreement with B&N, and in the case of possibly bidding for the entire company, gain access to B&N’s current credit facility and the cash on the balance sheet. Analysts quoted by different publications consider it a long shot that the deal will get done.
According to GAM, the current proposal is an increase from its November 15, 2013 proposal to the board, which valued the company at $20 per share. In that proposal, GAM suggested that the company should immediately separate the unprofitable Nook segment from the college and retail segment and recommended commencing a rights offering for the Nook segment to existing shareholders.