SUPERMARKET BILLIONAIRE DIVORCÉ MAKES A PLAY FOR BARNES AND NOBLE
Supermarket billionaire divorcé and Bill Clinton crony Ron Burkle loves nothing like he loves a good fight. Even his ex wife Janet has said so. She said he doesn’t like to lose:
“My husband cannot tolerate losing–anything!” Janet Burkle said in a court declaration filed in the divorce. “I know that he views my leaving him as a loss, not necessarily in the personal sense, but in the sense of ‘win or lose.’ I cannot sense (sic) strongly enough that my husband will do anything to win! This has made him a tremendous success as a business person but not very successful husband or father.” Highbeam.com.
Mr. Burkle’s latest fight is to gain a spot on the board of beleagured book giant, Barnes and Noble where he currently owns about 19% of the stock. He’s making a huge play for a spot because he claims that the company is being mismanaged by Leonard Riggio and the rest of the management team.
Burkle and his company Yucaipa Cos. tried and failed to double their stake in B&N. They showed up to dance but their attempt to cut in was intercepted by a poison pill. According to Reuters:
The poison pill lets friendly shareholders buy large amounts of stock at a steep discount should any investor amass a 20 percent stake, making a possible takeover bid costly. Burkle wants the trigger to be raised to 30 percent.
Not only does he want to play a much bigger role in how this dysfunctional family conducts its business behind closed doors, he also wants to make it easier for guys like him to step in and take control if things aren’t going the way they want it to go. That is exactly why he launced an all out proxy war.
He wants to get a place on the board for himself and a couple of other people he likes. And presumably he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to get what he wants. He’s used to this kind of thing, apparently. Doing whatever it takes to get what he wants I mean.
Case in point. According to the Washington Post, back circa 2005 when he and Janet were going through their divorce, Burkle allegedly stopped at nothing to win his case. First of all, his own daughter accused Burkle of videotaping his wife (her mother) and a lover having sex. He vehemently denied this.
Then he allegedly tried to get a reporter from the New York Postarrested for extorting money from him by taping this guy having a conversation with him (Burkle) that involved a few hundred thousand dollars. According to SFgate.com, the reporter was suspended from his job at the Post but Burkle failed in his attempt to get him arrested.
Then, in a failed bid to take over the WSJ (he was vying with guys like Rupert Murdoch who ultimately won) it came to light that Burkle tried to get a law changed in California so that guys like him could have their divorce records sealed. Says Money.com:
“A less discussed matter was Burkle’s support for a California law – vehemently opposed by media organizations – that would have shielded from public view records in divorce cases. (Burkle went through a messy divorce, and wanted the details kept out of the papers.) For this reason – along with Burkle’s staunch support for Democratic candidates and liberal causes – it’s hard to imagine that he would be a palatable choice for the Bancrofts.” Money.com
Well, I always like a tough guy who knows how to give a good fight. So I’m not going to bad mouth Ron. In fact, I’m going to wish him luck with this Barnes and Noble thing. Becuase you know what? The company’s stock is performing very poorly right now. And that’s just ridiculous. Go get ’em Ron!