Los Angeles billionaire investor Ronald Burkle lost his bid to unseat the chairman of book giant Barnes & Noble Inc. in a shareholder vote that ended Tuesday, delivering a big victory to the company’s leadership.
The closely watched vote was considered critical to the future of the company, with Barnes & Noble executives favoring a steady, tried-and-true method of running the world’s largest bookseller and Burkle fighting for a major shake-up — although he never made clear what plans he had for the company.
Ever since Burkle began rapidly accumulating the company’s shares late last year, he and Barnes & Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio have been engaged in a heated war of words. After Burkle launched a proxy fight in August the two campaigned aggressively to win stockholder support and resorted to bitter attacks, challenging each other’s character and financial competence.
The results of the shareholder vote were announced at Barnes & Noble’s annual meeting, which featured a boisterous standing-room-only crowd at the Asia Society in New York.
The meeting room was filled with Riggio supporters, who erupted into whoops and applause when the chairman read the results. An official vote count was not released, but Barnes & Noble lawyers said after the meeting that Riggio’s slate won by a 5-percentage-point margin.
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