UPC parent chairman plans to buy Barnes & Noble for US$1bn

20 May 2011

Liberty Media billionaire chairman John Malone, who also chairs one of the largest broadband providers outside the US, Liberty Global, is making a US$1bn bid for a 70pc stake in Barnes & Noble.

Liberty Media has offered US$17 a share for the bookstore chain, a 20pc premium over Barnes & Noble’s closing price of US$14.11 yesterday.

Barnes & Noble has 705 bookstores across the US and a further 636 college bookstores.

The company’s Nook e-reader has 25pc of the e-book market and sales from BN.com jumped 64pc year-over-year. Yesterday, its online rival Amazon.com revealed that Kindle e-books are now outselling printed books, with 105 Kindle books selling for every 100 printed books.

Liberty Media is a media conglomerate with revenues of US$10.9bn and assets valued at US$26bn.

Liberty Global, which is also chaired by Malone and which is the parent company of cable TV and broadband provider UPC, reported revenues of US$8.7bn in the last quarter.

Liberty’s eye on the digital ‘Horizon’

It is obvious that Malone’s companies are orienting themselves to be the heart of the digital lifestyle and consuming content, whether it’s on-demand TV, multiplayer gaming or simply reading e-books on connected devices.

Last October at the TIF conference, Liberty Global chief strategy officer Shane O’Neill gave a tantalising glimpse of a new home gateway device called ‘Horizon’, which it is envisaged will compete aggressively against both the AppleTV and Google TV technology.

O’Neill revealed the device will begin rolling out in homes in 2011 and be in all customers’ homes by 2012. Liberty Global owns UPC across Europe and other major cable firms, like Telenet and Unitymedia.

The company revealed the device will combine web and linear TV and will allow people to access the content they want throughout the home. Liberty is working with Intel, Samsung, NDS and Nagravision on the new technology.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years