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Barnes & Noble Says ‘No Truth’ to Liberty Media Speculation

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Nov. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Barnes & Noble Inc., the largest U.S. bookstore chain, said there’s “no truth” to speculation that Liberty Media Corp. is preparing to buy the rest of the retailer.

“It’s not accurate,” said Mary Ellen Keating, a spokeswoman for New York-based Barnes & Noble. “There’s no truth to it.”

Robert Routh, a New York-based analyst for Phoenix Partners Group, wrote in a research note today that Liberty may be setting up a $1.5 billion credit facility to help fund a purchase of Barnes & Noble. Liberty, controlled by billionaire John Malone, invested $204 million in the book retailer in August after dropping its offer to acquire the chain.

Courtnee Ulrich, a spokeswoman for Englewood, Colorado-based Liberty, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Barnes & Noble gained 4.4 percent to $15.77 at 4:15 p.m. in New York, the highest closing price since Aug. 11. The shares have advanced 31 percent from Nov. 8, when Liberty posted third-quarter results. Liberty Chief Executive Officer Gregory Maffei said on an earnings conference call that day that “we’re excited about the things” the retailer is doing.

Liberty Starz, the tracking stock for the Starz Group media business issued by Liberty, rose 7.4 percent to $68.60.

While Liberty may raise money for an acquisition, a more likely scenario is that it’s looking to restructure the ownership of the Starz LLC unit, Richard Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG LLC in New York, said in a note today.

Credit Facility

By making Starz an asset-backed entity, rather than a tracking stock, Liberty would make it easier for a larger acquirer to buy the unit, he said.

Scotia Capital Inc. and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Inc. are putting together a $1.5 billion credit facility for Starz, Standard & Poor’s reported in a note on Nov. 9, citing sources it didn’t identify.

Liberty will host an investor day on Nov. 17, and Barnes & Noble will make a presentation. Barnes & Noble released a new version of the Nook Tablet mobile reading device on Nov. 7.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matt Townsend in New York at mtownsend9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net