Billionaire investor Ronald Burkle has nominated an insurgent slate of directors as a proxy fight erupted at leading chain bookseller Barnes & Noble intensifying the conflict that has been brewing for months between Burkle and the company’s management. Burkle’s decision to nominate an insurgent slate to run against the company’s choices came late on Thursday. Earlier in the day a Delaware state judge rejected Burkle’s suit against the company’s shareholders rights (poison pill) agreement, which effectively limited Burkle’s holdings in B&N to 19% (see “Burkle Fighting B&N’s Poison Pill”).
As recently as Wednesday night it appeared that Burkle and B&N management led by Leonard Riggio, the company’s largest stockholder, were close to a settlement (see “Bookstores in Turmoil”). As the New York Times points out, the “brewing proxy fight could pose a distraction for Barnes & Noble as the company, the nation’s largest bookseller owner, begins to solicit bids for a potential takeover.” The settlement, which would have removed one impediment to the orderly sale of the company, appeared to be very close on Wednesday, but fell apart on Thursday.