JANA gains in Barnes & Noble deal

JANA Partners, a hedge fund known for pushing for change in its portfolio companies, saw the value of its stake in Barnes & Noble surge 52% after Microsoft said it will invest $300 million in a new unit with the bookseller.

The bookstore chain rose to $20.75 per share Monday in New York trading. JANA Partners said it owned 6.9 million shares in Barnes & Noble as of April 11, according to a regulatory filing. The increase represents a gain of $49.2 million for the firm from the closing price on April 27. Charles Penner, a spokesman for New York-based JANA Partners, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

The subsidiary will combine Barnes & Noble’s Nook digital reader and college businesses. The investment will give Microsoft about 18% of the unit, which has yet to be named, Barnes & Noble said in a statement. The bookseller will own the remainder of the business, which has a valuation of $1.7 billion, according to the statement.

JANA’s 12% stake makes it Barnes & Noble’s third-largest shareholder, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The hedge fund said in the filing that it bought 250,000 options to buy shares on April 20 after U.S. markets closed.