LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Waterstones is pleased to announce that today funds advised by Elliott Advisors (UK) Limited have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Barnes & Noble in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $683m (£537m), including the assumption of debt. Elliott acquired Waterstones in June 2018.
James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, will assume also the role of CEO of Barnes & Noble following the completion of the transaction.
Barnes & Noble is the largest bookseller in the USA with 627 bookstores across all 50 states. It had sales of $3.662bn for the fiscal year 2018. Waterstones is the largest bookseller in the UK with 293 bookshops, including those in Ireland, The Netherlands and Belgium. It had sales of £402m in the 2018 financial year.
Elliott will own both Barnes & Noble and Waterstones, with each bookseller to operate independently. They will have James Daunt as CEO in common, and benefit from the sharing of best practice between the companies. Waterstones has prospered over the last seven years following a consistent strategy to invest in its bookshops and to trust its local bookselling teams to run ever improving bookshops. This commitment to bookselling excellence will strengthen the ability of both companies to navigate with success a rapidly changing retail landscape.
James Daunt said, “I look forward greatly to working with the booksellers at Barnes & Noble. Physical bookstores the world over face fearsome challenges from online and digital, a complex array of difficulties that for ease and some evident reason we lay at the door of Amazon. Our purpose is to create, by investment and old fashioned bookselling skill, bookshops good enough to be a pleasure in their own right and to have no equal as a place in which to choose a book. We counter thereby Amazon’s siren call and defend the continued existence of real bookshops. We do so now with all the more confidence for being able to draw on the unrivalled bookselling skills of these two great companies. I am grateful to Elliott for their commitment to support the continued transformation at Waterstones, and now also the same at Barnes & Noble. I thank Mr Riggio for his confidence and support.”
Paul Best, Portfolio Manager and Head of European Private Equity at Elliott, added, “Our investment in Barnes & Noble, following our investment last year in Waterstones, demonstrates our conviction that readers continue to value the experience of a great bookstore. We look forward to working with James Daunt and the Barnes & Noble community of readers, members and booksellers as they start an exciting new chapter. We would like to acknowledge the contributions of Founder and Chairman Leonard Riggio whose entrepreneurial vision created the leading bookstore company in the United States.”
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory and stockholder approval, and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year.
Waterstones is the UK and Ireland’s leading high street bookseller with 293 bookshops, including Foyles, Hatchards, Hodges Figgis and branches in Ireland, Brussels and Amsterdam. It is the only national specialist book retailer of scale in the UK, with the average sized shop carrying a range of around 30,000 individual books and with over 200,000 titles in the largest shop.
Elliott Management Corporation manages two multi-strategy funds which combined have approximately $34 billion of assets under management. Its flagship fund, Elliott Associates, L.P., was founded in 1977, making it one of the oldest funds of its kind under continuous management. The Elliott funds’ investors include pension plans, sovereign wealth funds, endowments, foundations, funds-of-funds, and employees of the firm. Elliott Advisors (UK) Limited is an affiliate of Elliott Management Corporation.
About Barnes & Noble, Inc.
Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) is the USA’s largest retail bookseller, and a leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products. The Company operates 627 Barnes & Noble bookstores in 50 states, and one of the Web’s premier e-commerce sites, BN.com (www.bn.com). The Nook Digital business offers a lineup of popular NOOK® tablets and eReaders and an expansive collection of digital reading and entertainment content through the NOOK Store®. The NOOK Store (www.nook.com) features digital books, periodicals and comics, and offers the ability to enjoy content across a wide array of popular devices through Free NOOK Reading Apps™ available for Android™, iOS® and Windows®. General information on Barnes & Noble, Inc. can be obtained by visiting the Company’s corporate website at www.barnesandnobleinc.com.
Additional Information and Where to Find It
The Merger Agreement may be amended in order to effect the acquisition of Barnes & Noble (the “Company”) through a tender offer, though no tender offer for the outstanding shares of the Company has commenced. This communication may be deemed to be a communication by Elliott. This communication is for informational purposes only and is neither a recommendation, an offer to purchase nor a solicitation of an offer to sell shares. It is not a substitute for the tender offer materials that the offeror would file with the SEC upon commencement of the tender offer, if the parties amend the Merger Agreement in order to effect the acquisition of the Company through a tender offer. At the time the tender offer is commenced, if the parties so amend the Merger Agreement, the offeror will file tender offer materials on Schedule TO, and the Company thereafter will file a Solicitation/Recommendation Statement on Schedule 14D-9 with the SEC with respect to the tender offer. IF THE MERGER AGREEMENT IS SO AMENDED, THE TENDER OFFER MATERIALS (INCLUDING AN OFFER TO PURCHASE, A RELATED LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL AND CERTAIN OTHER TENDER OFFER DOCUMENTS) AND THE SOLICITATION/RECOMMENDATION STATEMENT WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION. HOLDERS OF SHARES OF COMMON STOCK OF THE COMPANY ARE URGED TO READ ANY SUCH DOCUMENTS CAREFULLY IN THEIR ENTIRETY, AS EACH MAY BE AMENDED OR SUPPLEMENTED FROM TIME TO TIME, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS FILED WITH THE SEC, WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION THAT HOLDERS OF SHARES OF COMMON STOCK OF THE COMPANY SHOULD CONSIDER BEFORE MAKING ANY DECISION REGARDING TENDERING THEIR SHARES. If the Merger Agreement is amended to contemplate a tender offer as described above, the Offer to Purchase, the related Letter of Transmittal and certain other tender offer documents, as well as the Solicitation/Recommendation Statement, will be made available to all holders of shares of common stock of the Company at no expense to them. The tender offer materials, the Solicitation/Recommendation Statement and other related documents (when available) would be made available for free at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov or by directing a request to the Information Agent for the tender offer who would be named by the offeror in the tender offer materials.
James Daunt, Waterstones Managing Director, James.Daunt@waterstones.com
Phone: +44 (0)7771 538882
Sandra Taylor, Waterstones Head of PR, Sandra.Taylor@waterstones.com
Phone: +44 (0)207 071 6343