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B&N- CFO Quits
Monday, October 24, 2011
Tags: Retail news
Barnes & Noble's Finance Chief Quits
Chief Financial Officer Joseph Lombardi resigned abruptly Friday, opening a hole in the bookseller's executive ranks at a critical time.
Mr. Lombardi's departure comes as Barnes & Noble is endeavoring to transform itself into a digital powerhouse so it can better compete with Amazon.com Inc. For the fiscal year ended April 30, the New York-based company swung to a sharp loss compared with a profit a year earlier, as it invested heavily in digital technology, including its line-up of Nook e-readers. Barnes & Noble is trying to remake itself into a digital powerhouse. In a recent Securities & Exchange Commission filing, Barnes & Noble described Mr. Lombardi, 49 years old, as "critical to the daily operations of the company in addition to his financial responsibilities."
Mr. Lombardi had been CFO since 2003 and signed a new three-year employment agreement in March 2010. He will be succeeded on an interim basis by Allen Lindstrom, the 45-year old corporate controller. Barnes & Noble said an executive search is now underway. In a statement made via a company spokeswoman, Mr. Lombardi noted that Barnes & Noble has undergone a significant transformation in the last two years and that "this seems like the right time for a change. I'm committed to the company, which is why I'm staying on through the transition of a new chief financial officer."
The nation's largest bookstore chain put itself up for sale in August 2010 and then fought a rugged proxy battle with activist investor Ron Burkle. Earlier this year, Liberty Media Corp. proposed buying the retailer but ended up investing $204 million for a 16.6% stake.
The retailer posted a $56.6 million loss on $1.42 billion in revenues in its fiscal first quarter ended July 30.
Mr. Lombardi was a key contact point for the company with Wall Street. David Strasser, an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, said Barnes & Noble may now look to the West Coast for a new chief financial officer, one who has a strong digital background. "The story here is that Barnes & Noble is undergoing a real digital transformation, and I think they'll look for a new CFO who can tell that story."
One shareholder agreed, saying: "this represents an opportunity to add clarity."