Barnes & Noble defeat rebel investor Burkle

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The Independent Online

Ron Burkle, the billionaire supermarket magnate, failed to bust his way on to the board of the world's biggest bookseller, Barnes & Noble, after a year-long war of words with the company's founder and chairman, Leonard Riggio.

Mr Riggio narrowly triumphed in a shareholder vote on a slate of directors for the company at its annual meeting yesterday, but he failed to secure more than 50 per cent support, amid unease over the company's digital strategy and its aggressive resistance to Mr Burkle.

Preliminary results suggested Mr Riggio and his fellow board candidates won 44 per cent of the vote, to Mr Burkle's 39 per cent. The Riggio family owns 28 per cent of Barnes & Noble, and Mr Burkle has built up a 19 per cent stake.

The battle between the two sides has been one of the most bitter in corporate America, with Mr Burkle accusing the Riggios of running Barnes & Noble for their own benefit, particularly since it agreed to buy a chain of college bookstores also owned by the family last year.

Management has accused Mr Burkle of trying to take control of the company without making a full bid. It has put the company up for sale, and reports suggest that as many as 20 groups have expressed an interest in making a bid.