A "for sale" sign may soon be hanging in the window of bookstore giant Barnes & Noble Inc., the company announced today. According to a press release issued this morning, Barnes & Noble's Board of Directors "intends to evaluate strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company, in order to increase stockholder value. The Board came to this decision based on the price of Barnes & Noble shares in the marketplace, which the Board believes are now significantly undervalued."
This process will be overseen by a Special Committee of four independent directors: George Campbell Jr., William Dillard II, Margaret Monaco and Patricia Higgins, who will serve as the committee's chair. The Special Committee will then recommend a course of action to the company's full board.
The board stated: "As the world's largest bookseller, Barnes & Noble has an iconic brand and unique competitive advantages [that] we believe will position the company to succeed over time in a rapidly changing market. The board is confident in Barnes & Noble's strategy and fully supportive of the senior management team, which is delivering explosive growth in our fast-developing digital business. The board has concluded that a review of strategic alternatives is the appropriate next step to take full advantage of our compelling digital opportunities and to create value for shareholders, customers and employees."
As a result, Leonard Riggio, the company's founder and largest stockholder, has informed the board that he intends to consider the possibility of participating in an investor group to acquire the company.
"I fully support the Board's decision to evaluate strategic alternatives at this time. Regardless of whether I participate in an investment group that buys the company, I, as well as the entire senior management team, am willing and eager to remain with the company and see it through the challenging years ahead," he said. "Having spent a lifetime in bookselling and building this great company, I am as committed as ever to the future of Barnes & Noble."
"There can be no assurance that the review of strategic alternatives will result in a sale of the company or in any other transaction," the company stated. "There is no timetable for the review, and the company does not intend to comment further regarding the evaluation of strategic alternatives, unless a specific transaction is recommended by the Special Committee or the process is concluded."