US distribution giant Readerlink LLC has missed the midnight deadline for a rival bid to Waterstones owner Elliott Advisors Ltd for Barnes & Noble, but could still propose a counter-offer.
Elliott entered into a $683m (£537m) agreement to acquire Barnes & Noble on Friday 7th June with plans for Waterstones m.d. James Daunt to be installed as c.e.o. of the US chain and Waterstones, splitting his time between New York and London.
But the plan hung in the balance with Readerlink reportedly considering making a higher bid. The Elliott deal contains a “keep-shop” provision, entitling it to $4m (£3.2m) if B&N struck a deal with a third party before midnight on Thursday 13th June.
Daunt told The Bookseller "no bid was entered" before the midnight deadline but added Readerlink could still make an offer.
If Readerlink makes a rival bid now, it will trigger a $17.5m (£14m) break-up fee for Elliott.
A spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble said: "We did not receive any other bids up until the Thursday, 11:59 pm deadline last night."
The Elliott deal is expected to close in the third quarter. A spokeswoman for the New York hedge fund said Elliott had no comment to make on the development.
The news comes one day after a group of Barnes & Noble investors warned the Elliott deal undervalues the company. In a public filing on Thursday, a group led by Barnes & Noble investor Richard Schottenfeld said the Elliott sale, which values the firm at $6.50 per share, is not high enough and failed to maximise value for shareholders. He said the company’s special committee should re-evaluate all offers.
The Bookseller has contacted Readerlink for comment.
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