Who might buy B&N?

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If multi-channel retailer Barnes & Noble indeed puts itself up for sale, who might emerge as the new owner of America's biggest bookstore chain?

The two names being tossed around most often already own stock in the company.

Leonard Riggio, Barnes & Noble's founder who is the company's largest stockholder with 30%, said he may head up an investor group to acquire the company.

Billionaire investor Ron Burkle, who owns 19% of the company's stocks, has made no secret that he would like a bigger portion. He sued Barnes & Noble over its shareholder rights plan, aimed at preventing anyone from buying more than 20% of the shares without board approval. The pressure he has applied is one possible factor behind the chain's announcement that it might sell.

Perhaps another potential buyer will enter the picture. But what is more likely is that Barnes & Noble won't change hands at all. Goldman Sachs analyst Matthew Fassler told The Wall Street Journal on August 4 that the company had a 30% probability of being sold, “recognizing potential challenges in financing a transaction and the potential lack of other bidders.”

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