Saturday, September 25, 2010

Final Salvos in the Battle of Barnes & Noble; Burkle Says "I'm Not Trying to Take Over"

Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Companies issued an "open letter" to Barnes & Noble employees--who must vote their 401(k) shares by the end of the day today--along with a press release criticizing the bookseller for not allow them to communicate directly with workers. A spokesperson says in the release, "Barnes & Noble used company resources and the company's internal communications systems on multiple occasions to solicit votes for Leonard Riggio and his hand-picked nominees to the Board of Directors. But when Yucaipa requested an opportunity to respond, we were blocked from distributing a letter filed publicly with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Instead, the company tried to dictate what we could send - in this case a two-day-old letter that was not addressed specifically to employees. We declined."

In the letter, Ron Burkle puts his more reasonable side on display: "The great job you do every day built Barnes & Noble into an iconic American brand and reshaped the way people buy books. Your hard work and dedication make Barnes & Noble a regular destination for millions of book lovers, and your devotion shows every day. That's one of the reasons we initially invested in Barnes & Noble and why we steadily increased our ownership to become the company's largest independent stockholder."

Burkle also says: "Unfortunately, the current Barnes & Noble board of directors has spent a lot of time, money and effort trying to scare you about my intentions and distort my record as an investor. I'll be blunt. Contrary to what you may have been told, I'm not trying to take over Barnes & Noble."


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