Barnes & Noble Inc. shareholders settled a contentious proxy battle Tuesday by voting for a slate backed by Chairman Leonard Riggio rather than candidates proposed by Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle, according to a preliminary vote tally.
Burkle, whose investment firm Yucaipa Cos. controls owns 18.8 percent of the New York bookseller’s shares, had attempted to gain more influence over the company.
Burkle argued Riggio is not operating the company in the best interest of shareholders. Barnes & Noble’s management said Burkle wanted to take control of the company without paying a fair price.
In a statement, Yucaipa noted that although Riggio, who controls 36 percent of shares, started with a substantial voting advantage, preliminary tallies showed that less than 50 percent of the outstanding stock voted for him and his slate of director nominees. Holders of 44 percent of the shares eligible to be voted supported Riggio’s slate, while 39 percent supported the Yucaipa slate, a source told Reuters. In addition, 43 percent voted against Yucaipa's proposal to change the company's "poison pill" takeover defense, while 39 percent voted for the change.
Burkle said that while Yucaipa was pleased with the changes it was able to bring about during the proxy contest, he would continue to press for changes at Barnes & Noble.
“While an outright victory would have been the best way to ensure a fair process, we want to thank the independent stockholders who supported us by more than a wide margin," Burkle said in a statement.
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