Elliott Advisors has completed its purchase of Barnes & Noble. First announced June 7, the acquisition was officially completed when more than 81% of B&N’s shares were tendered by the August 6 deadline.
As a result of the deal, B&N becomes a private company controlled by the private equity firm Elliott Advisors, which also owns the U.K. bookstore chain Waterstones. As a result of the acquisition, for which Elliott paid $6.50 per share in a deal valued at $683 million, James Daunt, head of Waterstones, will run both the U.K. chain and B&N. B&N founder Len Riggio will have no formal role in company.
In announcing the completion of the deal, Elliot said that Daunt, while continuing to serve as Waterstones CEO, will relocate from London to New York. Daunt has acknowledged that he will face a learning curving on how the American bookselling business works.
In a prepared statement, Daunt said: “This is a very good day for bookselling. Barnes & Noble is the greatest of all bookstore names and will now benefit from the support of an owner committed to physical bookselling. With investment and concentration on the core principles of good bookselling, the prospects for this extraordinary company are bright. I look forward very much to working with the booksellers at Barnes & Noble.”
In an interview with PW at the time the purchase announcement was made, Daunt said that Elliott expects to sell B&N at some point, but before they can do that, they will need to make the bookseller "shinier, bigger, and better." To accomplish that goal, Elliott will need to make some investments."The simple fact is that B&N needs money: people want to shop in places that look modern, clean, and inviting. The B&N stores look tired and need a little botox.”
In its last financial report as a public company, B&N reported that total revenue for the year ended April 27, 2019, fell 3.0% compared to fiscal 2018, to $3.55 billion. The company did post a net profit of $3.8 million, compared to a loss of $125.5 million in fiscal 2018. Comparable store sales fell 1.9% in the year, led by a 3.9% decline in comparable bookstore sales.