NEW YORK Feb 21 Investment firm G Asset
Management said on Friday that it had offered to buy a 51
percent stake in either Barnes & Noble Inc or in the
bookseller's Nook digital business.
The little known firm said the proposal for Barnes & Noble
as a whole would be for $22 per share, which would value the top
U.S. bookstore chain at $1.32 billion. It follows an earlier
proposal in November for $20 per share, its second.
G Asset, which not did detail how it would finance a deal,
also made an alternative offer to buy Nook for $5 per share,
saying spinning off the digital books and device business would
create "substantial shareholder value."
The latest offer for the whole company would value Barnes &
Noble at $1.32 billion, while the proposal for Nook would value
that unit at about $300 million.
The firm has previously pressed the company to spin off its
Nook unit from Barnes & Noble's bookstore and college units.
Michael Glickstein, G Asset's Chief Investment Officer, and
the only person listed on the firm's website, did not
immediately return a request for comment.
Barnes & Noble shares were up 5.8 percent at $17.75 in
afternoon trading after going as high as $19.12 after the news
was released, suggesting Wall Street analysts were doubtful a
deal would get done.
A Barnes & Noble spokeswoman declined to comment beyond
confirming that the company had received G Asset's offer.
The original Nook device was launched in 2009 to help Barnes
& Noble fend off Amazon.com Inc and allowed the
retailer to win as much as 27 percent of the U.S. e-books
But the company lost hundreds of millions of dollars trying
to keep pace with deep-pocketed rivals such as Amazon, Apple Inc
and Google Inc. It has scaled back its Nook business and
focusing more on content and software.
Two years ago, Microsoft Corp invested $300 million
in the Nook unit for a 17.6 percent stake, valuing the division
at $1.7 billion. In late 2012, Pearson PLC took a 5
percent stake in Nook for $89.5 million.
Barnes & Noble will report quarterly earnings on Thursday.