After struggling for a decade in the era of Amazon ascendance, Barnes & Noble will be going private, care of a private equity firm, Elliott Management, that is buying it for $683 million.
Barnes & Noble stock surged 30 percent on the news, and popped up another 10 percent in premarket trading Friday (June 7) on rumors of a coming sale. But the stock price — currently sitting at around $6.50 — has still fallen quite far from its 2006 peak of around $30.
Ultimately, despite dogged efforts, Barnes & Noble was unable to keep pace with Amazon. Its eReader, meant to compete with the Kindle, never quite took off, and spinning off the college bookstore business never managed to have the refocusing effect that was intended. Last October the bookseller went public with the fact that it was looking for a buyer.
As a privately held firm, quarterly sales reports and earnings will no longer be a factor — which means it will likely endure fewer negative comparisons to Amazon.
“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Elliott, the owner of Waterstones, a bookseller I have admired over the years,” said Barnes & Noble Founder and CEO Leonard Riggio in a statement. “In view of the success they have had in the bookselling marketplace, I believe they are uniquely suited to improve and grow our company for many years ahead.”
James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, will take over as CEO of Barnes & Noble too, although Waterstones and Barnes & Noble will remain separate entities.
It might not quite be the end of life on the public markets Barnes & Noble might have chosen — but then we imagine it might not have left the public markets if it had had more of a choice. But it does mean Barnes & Noble will go on — unlike Borders, which shut its doors for the last time in 2011.