Shareholders approve Barnes & Noble ‘poison pill’

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NEW YORK (AP) — Bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc.’s shareholders have ratified a shareholder rights plan, finally making the so-called “poison pill” official, the bookseller said Wednesday.

Preliminary results show 72 percent of shareholders voted in favor of the plan at a special shareholder meeting in New York. The plan limits shareholder stakes to 20 percent.

Billionaire 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 percent 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 percent stake in the company.

Barnes & Noble is facing tough competition from online retailers and discounters. It put itself up for sale under pressure from Burkle to improve results.

Shares rose 32 cents to $14.73 during morning trading.