Ronald W. Burkle, founder and chairman of The Yucaipa Cos., lost his battle Tuesday to gain seats on the Barnes & Noble Inc. board and his “poison pill” anti-takeover provision was defeated. Burkle, whose Los Angeles-based firm is an investor in Sean John, Scoop and American Apparel, didn’t attend Barnes & Noble’s annual meeting at the Asia Society in New York, but he was represented by a contingent of Yucaipa executives. Yucaipa cited “insurmountable voting advantage” of B&N chairman Leonard Riggio and other insiders, but was pleased with the changes it was able to bring about by the issues it raised in the proxy contest, noting, “there was a great deal still to do, and that Yucaipa will continue to press for changes at Barnes & Noble.”
A packed room came out to support Riggio and the company’s proposed slate of three new directors, and when Riggio came to the podium after noting “the contested nature of this year’s meeting,” the applause lasted for nearly a minute. William Lynch, Barnes & Noble’s ceo, discussed the company’s four main objectives, which include gaining share in physical retail bookstores, establishing Barnes & Noble as a leader in the emerging digital market, growing the college textbook division and testing new categories of business, such as toys, games and electronics. The company, whose sales are expected to increase to more than $7 billion this year, plans to spend $140 million in digital strategies.