Barnes’s Chairman Mulls Store Buyout

Barnes & Noble Inc.’s chairman and biggest shareholder, Leonard Riggio, has expressed interest in buying out the retailer’s consumer-bookstore chain, raising the prospect that the company could be split in two, say people familiar with the situation.

Mr. Riggio, 71 years old, built Barnes & Noble into a retail powerhouse in the 1980s and ’90s, and he still controls about 30% of the company’s common stock.

His expression of interest so far has been tentative, although one of the people said he was expected to make it formal this week, including with a public disclosure of his interest. If it proceeded, Barnes & Noble’s 689 retail stores would be taken private, separated from the company’s college-store chain and its Nook e-reader and tablet business.

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