Barnes & Noble shareholders approve ‘poison pill’

New York City -- Barnes & Noble's shareholders on Wednesday ratified a shareholder rights plan that prevents an outside investor from acquiring 20% or more of the company's shares without board approval. 

Preliminary results show 72% of shareholders voted in favor of the plan at a special shareholder meeting in New York. The plan limits shareholder stakes to 20%, finally making the so-called "poison pill" official.

“We are very gratified by the overwhelming shareholder support for the rights plan, which we believe is a critical protection for Barnes & Noble shareholders,” the company said in a statement.

Activist investor Ron Burkle recently waged and lost a proxy fight for seats on the bookseller's board, which he says favors the family of Chairman Leonard Riggio.

Barnes & Noble created the plan in 2009 after Burkle acquired a 19% stake in the bookseller. At the time Barnes & Noble said it would eventually need to be approved by shareholders. Burkle had expressed interest in increasing his stake to be closer to Riggio's own 30% stake in the company.

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