The nation’s largest store-based bookseller could soon have a new owner.
Barnes & Noble is reportedly nearing a deal to be bought by hedge fund Elliott Management Corp., The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
According to the Journal, Elliott is the lead bidder in an auction that could happen soon. Terms of a potential sale were not available Thursday afternoon.
Other potential buyers include Leonard Riggio, the retailer’s founder and executive, and Readerlink LLC, a Oak Brook, Illinois-based book distributor, the Journal reported.
In October, the New York-headquartered retailer announced it had initiated a strategic review, which could lead to the company’s sale. There are 627 Barnes & Noble stores.
Elliott Management already owns a bookstore chain and last year acquired a majority of the U.K. bookstore chain Waterstones.
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Barnes & Noble officials did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s requests for comment. Elliott Management officials declined to comment.
Barnes & Noble has struggled in its competition with brick-and-mortar retailers such as Walmart and online giant Amazon. In July 2017, activist investor Sandell Asset Management urged the company to sell itself as a way to turn around the chain, which laid off employees after a bleak holiday season.
In July 2018, the bookseller fired CEO Demos Parneros for an unstated violation of company policies. Parneros has sued the company over his dismissal.
According to the Journal, Waterstones has rebounded from a period of losses and has been opening new stores, which are like independent shops.
Shares of Barnes & Noble stock increased nearly 30% Thursday and closed at $5.96. As of Thursday’s close, the company has a market value of $436 million.
Contributing: Mike Snider
Follow Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko