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Barnes & Noble’s board details opposition to Burkle in letter to shareholders

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Barnes & Noble’s board of directors has sent a letter to shareholders urging them to vote against proposals by Ron Burkle, the billionaire financier who is waging a proxy fight with the struggling book seller.

The retailer said in the letter Wednesday that accepting Burkle’s slate of directors and other proposals made by his investment arm Yucaipa Cos. “would weaken shareholder protections.” The moves would allow Burkle and another investor, Aletheia Research & Management, to take control of the company “without paying shareholders a premium.”

The company’s annual shareholder meeting is Sept. 28.

Burkle and Yucaipa, which has about a 19% stake in the company, unsuccessfully sued Barnes & Noble in a bid to expand their stake even more without triggering a shareholder rights plan. When that lawsuit was dismissed, Burkle said he would nominate a slate of three directors to the board.

In its letter, Barnes & Noble said Burkle’s moves represent a “thinly veiled attempt to seize control of Barnes & Noble.”

The company said Burkle is working in tandem with Aletheia, a Los Angeles area investment firm. The two companies have “a history of investing in many of the same companies at about the same time,” the letter said, citing Whole Foods Market, Wild Oats and others.

“Burkle claims he is not working together with Aletheia to gain control of Barnes & Noble, but can you really believe that?,” the letter said.

Barnes & Noble said together the two companies own about 35% of the book retailer, but if both get their way they would increase their stake to 30% each, which would control a majority of the company.

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B&N names new leadership for digital products, e-commerce businesses

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK Barnes & Noble announced that Jamie Iannone has been named president of Barnes & Noble digital products and John Foley has joined the company as President of Barnes & Noble e-commerce.

In his new role, Iannone will be responsible for all NOOK e-reading devices, software, accessories and retail integration and experiences; e-books and digital content; and third-party partnerships. Foley will manage the BN.com online retail business including books, children’s books, toys and games, music, movies, home and gift items, electronics and marketplace, as well as merchandising, online and search marketing. The two executives will report to William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble.

 

“Jamie and John are terrific leaders who will take our already fast-growing online and digital businesses to the next level leveraging their strong personal track records for management excellence and successes in technology, e-commerce, merchandising and operations,” said Lynch. “With our executive leadership in place, talented employees and unique assets, we will continue to innovate and grow Barnes & Noble’s leadership in digital reading and online shopping experiences for our millions of customers.”

 

Iannone joined the company as EVP one year ago. Previously, he held leadership positions at Ebay, including overseeing global search, merchandising and buyer experience, and was formerly a media and IT consultant at Booz Allen & Hamilton.

Foley is joining Barnes & Noble after 13 years at IAC, where he was most recently the CEO of The Pronto Network, which includes Pronto.com and its recently launched verticals ProntoStyle.com, ProntoHome.com and ProntoTech.com. Foley also maintained oversight of Evite.com, Gifts.com, IAC Advertising, and Proust.com.

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Best Buy names chief design officer

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Best Buy has named Aura Oslapas SVP and chief design officer, effective Sept. 15. In her new role, Oslapas will lead Best Buy’s design and brand identity team worldwide.

“Aura is a highly creative design leader,” said Barry Judge, Best Buy EVP and chief marketing officer. “She is able to bring forth progressive, customer-centered programs that define product and service offerings while being grounded in research and solid creative. Best Buy believes that great design is a key component of delivering unique brand experiences that resonate with customers and drive market share. Her ability to combine design and innovation will help us reach customers in new ways.”

Oslapas most recently served as principal of A+O Design Methods, a boutique design agency in San Francisco. During her career, Oslapas has held leadership positions at organizations such as Esprit de Corp, IDEO and Stone Yamashita Partners. She has served a variety of consumer and technology clients, including Hewlett-Packard, Target, Liz Claiborne, Apple, Logitech, McDonald’s and Amtrak.

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