NEW YORK - Investment firm G Asset has offered to buy 51 percent of the Barnes & Noble bookstore chain for about $672 million.
The New York firm says its offer is
for $22 per share, 31 percent above the stock's closing price on Thursday.
Barnes & Noble has about 60 million shares outstanding.
Its stock rose 93 cents, or 5.5
percent, to $17.71 in afternoon trading.
G Asset says Barnes & Noble (BKS)
is "substantially undervalued." The retailer is trying to turn around
its results as more consumers buy books online or in a digital format. The New
York company's sales fell 6.6 percent at its bookstores and online during the
critical holiday shopping season. It has invested heavily in its Nook e-book
business but sales in that unit are also dropping.
If the bid were successful, G Asset
would spin off the Nook business into its own venture, separate from Barnes
& Noble's retail stores and college bookstores.
New York-based Barnes & Noble said
Friday that it has received the offer but did not comment further.
This isn't G Asset's first dance with
The firm, managed by Michael
Glickstein, a former director of research at hedge fund Mercer Partners, made
an offer to buy 51 percent of Barnes & Noble's bookstore business in 2012.
G Asset wanted to spin off the chain's college bookstores under that plan, but
nothing came of that offer.
Then G Asset last November offered $20
per share for a 51 percent stake in Barnes & Noble.
G Asset also has another idea for
Barnes & Noble. Instead of bidding for 51 percent of the whole company, it
could buy a controlling stake in Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader and e-book
business, valuing it at $5 per share.
Barnes & Noble Inc. began
reporting its Nook business sales separately from its retail business in late
2012 as it evaluated ways to become more profitable.
Founder Leonard Riggio in early 2013 said he wanted to acquire the company's stores and website, but not the business that makes the Nook readers. He later withdrew that bid.