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Barnes & Noble Merger Said Opposed

June 1, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ Federal Trade Commission staff are opposing Barnes & Noble’s $600 million plan to merge with the nation’s largest book wholesaler, saying it violates antitrust laws, The New York Times reported today.

The staff has recommended that the full FTC block the plan by the nation’s largest bookseller to acquire the Ingram Book Group, the Times reported, citing an unidentified source familiar with the deal.

Barnes & Noble executives say the merger would allow the company to reduce costs and delivery times to customers, particularly those online. Lawyers for Barnes & Noble and Ingram plan to discuss the deal with the FTC, which rarely overturns staff recommendations, the Times said.

Ingram fills more than 58 percent of the orders of online bookseller Amazon.com, one of Barnes & Noble’s primary Internet competitors. Ingram also is the sole supplier for many small bookstores.

Publishers and independent booksellers have opposed the planned merger since its announcement in November. They say the deal will hurt competition and could affect credit, delivery speed and access to popular books that are in short supply.

Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating declined to comment.

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