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Just a little update on the current situation, with due respect to Belli's excellent, thorough and informative initial write-up.

Early in the new year, it seemed that Chapters had found its white knight in Future Shop, a Vancouver-based electronics retail chain. Future Shop wished to pursue a merger with Chapters, but more towards the goal of merging the online websites of each, Futureshop.ca and Chapters.ca. The board of directors of Chapters was much more recptive to this notion than to Trilogy's bid. The shareholders, however, seemed less so- most likely due to the fact that Future Shop's offer consisted of a combination of money and shares (the value of which would fluctuate) for Chapters' shares, while Trilogy's bids always consisted entirely of cold hard cash.

Of course, in early February, Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman's takeover bid was finally successful. Larry Stevenson's myriad stalling tactics, however, were not entirely pointless, as Trilogy ended up offering $17/share, a significant increase from the initial $13/share bid. Schwartz was later quoted in the media, in fact, praising Stevenson for "fighting a good fight" and ensuring value for the company's shareholders.

As of this moment, Heather Reisman is now the CEO of Chapters. Although still technically the owner of the Indigo! chain, she has placed its holdings in trust and the company is being actively managed by others. Other changes in the wake of the takeover - quite a few higher-up execs have now departed (or been "asked to depart") from Chapters, not least of whom being Stevenson himself.

Things are now in the hands of the Competition Bureau of Canada, which must rule on the propised Chapters-Indigo! merger before anything can happen. It has been speculated the Bureau's final rulings will be made in early to mid April. Until then, and I cannot stress this enough, Chapters and Indigo! are still separate companies. Although I'll never understand why it is that customers (I am a Chapters store employee) insist on exhibiting such idiocy as insisting that our promotions/stock/etc. should be consistent with Indigo!'s, or making fun of our present lack of job security. (More than once I have encountered questions along the lines of "So when are they gonna close the store and fire you all?")

The current snag in Reisman's plans are in the attempts to re-acquire all shares in the online portion of the company, Chapters.ca. (The website is controlled mostly but not completely by Chapters Inc.) An acqusition bid for all shares of Chapters Online so far has had little success, due to such arcane matters as obscure bank requirements not being met. What does this mean? Perhaps, in the long run, we may have the absurd situation in which Reisman is the CEO of a merged Chapters-Indigo! chain, yet with the two related online sites still in competition with each other.

When all is said and done, many of the same lingering questions still hang over our heads. When and if the merger happens, will it be good for customers? For authors? For publishers? For the Canadian book industry? Can Reisman successfully handle such a large company? Despite the us vs. them mentality that the media has so often promoted during this whole story, it seems to me that most people are being quietly optimistic, with an "only time will tell" outlook.

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