Barnes & Noble chairman to bid for company’s retail assets

NEW YORK, Mon Feb 25, 2013 — Barnes & Noble Inc. Chairman Leonard Riggio has told the board he plans to buy the retail assets of the company including Barnes & Noble Booksellers Inc. and, but excluding the Nook Media business, sending the company’s shares up as much as 26 percent before the bell on Monday.

Barnes & Noble shares closed at $13.51 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, valuing the company at about $809 million.

Barnes & Noble’s retail business has struggled in recent years as book buyers switched to digital formats, underscored by a 10.9 percent fall in sales at its bookstores and websites in the critical year-end holiday period.

“Riggio loves the (retail) business too much to let it go,” Morningstar analyst Peter Wahlstrom said, adding that the business was attractive because it was slow-growing and did not need capital to keep going.

The company said in January last year that it might spin off its digital and e-reader business and in October it created a separate unit for its Nook and college bookstore chains called Nook Media, which Riggio said he would not buy.