New York City Barnes & Noble chairman Leonard Riggio has exercised options to acquire 990,740 shares in the company for $16.8 million, according to a Wednesday report by the Wall Street Journal.
The move, which was disclosed Tuesday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, shows how seriously Riggio is taking a coming proxy battle for three board seats.
The decision to exercise his options will enable Riggio to vote his entire equity stake. Although Barnes & Noble's most recent proxy statement shows that Riggio owns 17.9 million shares, or 29.9% of the retailer's stock outstanding, his options couldn't be voted. The options represented 1.7% of his 29.9% stake.
Barnes & Noble is in a proxy fight with Ronald Burkle, the activist investor who is Barnes & Noble's second-largest investor. Burkle has nominated a slate of three directors for election to the bookseller, including himself.
Riggio is one of three current directors whose seats are up for re-election.
In a statement, the company said Riggio "continues to believe B&N's stock is undervalued and this exercise of his options demonstrates his belief in the long-term strategy of the company."