Investor offers to finance Borders' Barnes & Noble bid

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

NEW YORK -- Buying out Barnes & Noble would give its much smaller rival, Borders Group, a bigger and firmer stake in the digital world, but some analysts said combining the two largest companies in the shrinking realm of traditional book selling could hurt both -- perhaps irreparably.

Activist investor William Ackman and his investment firm announced in a regulatory filing Monday that they had offered to finance a $963 million bid by Borders for Barnes & Noble Inc.

Under the deal, Pershing Square Capital Management would sponsor a bid by Borders of $16 per share for more than 60 million outstanding Barnes & Noble shares. The news sent Barnes & Noble's shares up 10.6 percent, or $1.41, on Monday to close at $14.69.

Both book sellers face increasingly tough competition from much bigger merchants online and in stores, including, Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. And both have said they are relying for growth on electronic books and readers, a still-small arena where another giant, Google Inc., launched its own bookstore Monday.

-- AP

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