Four Potential Buyers for Borders

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Includes: BGPIQ, BKS
by: Todd Sullivan

It seems there are four options for a purchaser of Borders (BGP).

  1. Barnes and Noble (NYSE:BKS)
    This has been talked about for a few years now. The theory is that a combined entity would be better able to compete with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) without the cannibalization of the foot traffic market the two currently compete for.

  2. Indigo
    Canada's largest bookseller has been mentioned as a possible suitor. Here is the interesting part - Indigo's CEO Heather Reisman knows Borders well. She led the attempt to expand Borders into Canada in 1996 that was blocked by the Canadian government. She eventually left Borders, started Indigo, and then took over Canadian rival Chapters in 2001, claiming market dominance in the country. A combination of the two would lead to a North American powerhouse and, with the controlling interesting being Canadian, would see no objection from that country's government.

  3. Pershing
    Ackman will already own the international operations soon enough, why not just convert his soon to be 40% stake into total ownership, do what he wants to it, and then spin it out in a few years when the climate is better?

  4. Nothing
    It is possible for the company to continue on its own should no legitimate offering come about, as the Ackman loan allows for uninterrupted operations through 2009. This option is not likely though. It was probably done to give the company some bargaining power in negotiations.

No matter what happens, Pershing will own the international operations on Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Britain. Having those operation off the books may clear the way for Indigo to scoop up the US assets at a reduced price.

Borders is a profitable business that is turning around, albeit very slowly in the current environment. With that being said, there is a market for a buyer.

Again, the good news for current shareholders is Ackman's interest. Since he is the largest shareholder and essentially in control of the sale process, shareholders can be assured of a good deal should one come about.

Disclosure: Long BGP.