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Borders Bankruptcy Is Ruining Bill Ackman's Reading Room Plans

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He had a plan to save the book industry one story at a time, but now that's probably shot to hell.

William Ackman, whose stake in Borders Group Inc. will probably be wiped out by bankruptcy, also may be thwarted in his ambition to wed the bookstore chain to larger Barnes & Noble Inc., analysts say. The founder of hedge-fund firm Pershing Square Capital Management LP sought in December to help Borders fund a purchase of Barnes & Noble. Borders filed for bankruptcy yesterday in New York after four years of sales declines, and now plans to shut about 40 percent of its superstores in the next several weeks.

Barnes & Noble probably will avoid a Borders purchase because the chain doesn’t have an appealing digital reading business or much attractive real estate, said Peter Wahlstrom, an analyst for Morningstar Investment Services in Chicago. Instead, Barnes & Noble may seek a chunk of the more than $500 million in sales Borders’s collapse will free up. “Barnes & Noble hasn’t expressed an interest to expand their number of stores,” Wahlstrom said. The company needs to focus on digital reading because “if you take your eye off the growth ball, you risk exposing yourself to the same kind of fate as Borders.”

I'm sorry, is a Nook or a Kindle going to show up to your house and read you a bedtime story? Because that's what Ackman was planning on doing with every purchase made from the newly merged company.

Borders Bankruptcy May Snuff Ackman's Stake, Merger [Bloomberg]


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