Investor Ronald Burkle is seeking permission from Barnes & Noble to nearly double his stake in the book seller and become its largest shareholder.
Barnes & Noble said in a filing on Monday that Mr. Burkle’s investment company, Yucaipa Companies, sent a letter to its board on Thursday seeking permission to raise its stake to up to 37 percent without tripping poison pill provisions, which go into effect once any investor exceeds 20 percent ownership.
The company declined to comment beyond the filing, and Yucaipa did not respond to requests for comment.
Barnes & Noble has been struggling with falling sales as more book-buying shifts online.
Yucaipa bought 500,000 Barnes & Noble shares in January, raising its stake to 18.7 percent.
It had bought 5.7 million shares in quick succession in October and November, prompting Barnes & Noble’s board, led by its chairman, Leonard Riggio, to pass the poison pill in November.
A 37 percent stake would make Yucaipa the chain’s largest shareholder, ahead of Mr. Riggio, who founded the retailer with a single bookstore in 1965.
The poison pill is intended to prevent hostile takeovers by allowing current shareholders to dilute a raider’s holdings by buying more shares at a discount.
Mr. Riggio’s brother Stephen, who owns 72,086 shares, or 0.1 percent of the company, is Barnes & Noble’s chief executive.
Mr. Burkle’s letter reiterates concerns about Barnes & Noble’s corporate governance policies.
He also asked the board to confirm that members of the Riggio family could not collectively or individually buy any more shares without activating the poison pill.
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