Unstructured Finance

Check Out Line: Showdown at the Barnes & Noble corral

barnes1Check out Barnes & Noble’s victory at its annual meeting.

Shareholders of the U.S. bookseller had to choose between dissident investor Ron Burkle and Chairman Len Riggio as a bitter proxy battle between the chain’s top two stakeholders came to a head.

And the winner of the “gunfight” was Barnes & Noble, whose slate of directors won election.

Burkle, whose Yucaipa Cos owns 18.8 percent of Barnes & Noble shares, had been on a slate of three nominees seeking seats on the board, including the one held by Riggio, the man who built the chain into the largest U.S. specialty bookseller and the company’s largest shareholder with a 28.2 percent stake. Three of the nine board seats were up for a vote.

Burkle also asked shareholders to modify an anti-takeover “poison pill” that Barnes & Noble put into place last year after Burkle doubled his stake. Burkle had accused Riggio of running the company for his personal benefit and leaving it saddled with debt and ill-prepared for the shift to electronic books.

Barnes & Noble, which put itself up for sale in August, had said Burkle is seeking control of the company without paying shareholders a premium and lacks a business plan of his own. Riggio has said he may make a bid to buy the company. After the shareholder vote, Burkle’s Yucaipa called on Riggio to support the highest bid in such a move.

Target investors shoot down Ackman


When an activist investor comes to town, it appears that Target security goes on high alert.

While Target had its shareholders, including hedge fund manager William Ackman, and the media fly to one of its yet-unfinished stores outside of Milwaukee to attend their annual meeting, it greeted them with a heavy security detail.

From guards zooming around the parking lot on segway personal transporters to chase down wayward  parkers, to Target employees scanning shareholders with handheld metal dectors when they entered its stores, Target made it very clear it was in no mood for fun and games at its annual meeting.  

Target lays down the law in Waukesha

thistargetTarget security laid down the law in Waukesha, Wisconsin, ahead of what promises to be one of the most closely watched corporate power struggles of the season.

In one corner is retailer Target, one of America’s largest retailers, and in the other is activist investor William Ackman.

ackman1Secret service look-alikes kept a close watch over reporters covering the shareholder vote, while chilly temps and overcast skies provided a dramatic backdrop for the corporate throwdown.