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Barnes & Noble halts buyout plan

The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Barnes & Noble, the world's largest bookstore chain, called off its $600 million purchase of the world's biggest book distributor Wednesday because of opposition from antitrust regulators.

Barnes & Noble and Ingram Book Group said they worried that their businesses would suffer during a prolonged review by the Federal Trade Commission.

Some FTC staff members had concluded that the merger could give Barnes & Noble an unfair competitive position.

The review process has been disappointing to us, Ingram chairman John R. Ingram said. The events of the last several days have made it clear that some staff hold an outdated view of the marketplace, making an objective analysis of the transaction impossible.

The deal has been under fire since it was announced in November. Critics said it could allow Barnes & Noble to delay delivery of best sellers to independent stores and bigger rivals such as Borders.

The American Booksellers Association, which represents 3,400 independent bookstore companies, had been the most vocal opponent of the proposed merger.