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Burkle Launches Barnes & Noble Proxy Fight

Barnes & Noble finds itself in the midst of a proxy battle with Ron Burkle.



) -- Billionaire investor Ron Burkle launched a proxy fight against

Barnes & Noble

(BKS) - Get Barnes & Noble, Inc. Report

on Thursday.

A Delaware judge rejected Burkle's bid to overturn the company's poison pill, which limits an investors' stake in Barnes & Noble at 20%. Burkle's firm Yucaipa now plans to nominate Burkle and two others to the company's board of directors at its shareholder meeting on Sept. 28. Three board seats are currently up for grabs, including that of chairman and largest shareholder, Leonard Riggio.

Burkle is also asking shareholders to amend the poison pill provision.

"Yucaipa believes no legitimate corporate purpose is served by treating the Riggios more favorably than other stockholders," Yucaipa said in a statement.

Burkle has been a proverbial thorn in Barnes & Noble's side since he attempted to increase his stake in the company without triggering its poison pill. A poison pill is generally put in place to prevent a hostile takeover. His request was denied and Burkle has spent the past year contending the poison pill.

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Burkle, with a 19% stake in the company, is Barnes & Noble's largest shareholder, behind Riggio. Burkle was attempting to gain a 37% stake.

It would arguably have been in Barnes & Noble's best interest to end this battle so it could turn its focus to the sale of the company. Management announced last week that it is exploring strategic alternatives for the company, which could include a sell off.

Riggio has said he would explore purchasing the company with a group of investors, and Burkle has also been named as a potential bidder.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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