The retailer’s new chief is best known as a numbers guy and a dealmaker — especially in cable where he helped Cablevision spin off MSG and AMC Networks. He also was an exec at Charter Communications and AT&T Broadband, and spent 23 years at Arthur Anderson where he mostly advised cable companies. What’s he doing running the leading book retailer? Remember that John Malone’s Liberty Media owns about 17% of Barnes & Noble. And it’s concerned. Just yesterday Liberty CEO Greg Maffai told an investor conference that it’s a “challenging” time for the chain, noting that while the retail operation is “strong,” the Nook tablet and e-reader operation is “difficult” as it competes with Amazon, Apple, and Google. Shares are up 11.6% over the last 12 months — well below the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 which was +26.1%, and down more than 37% from the company’s 12-month high last May. Barnes & Noble has been without a CEO since July when William Lynch stepped down. Huseby was named CEO of Nook Media, and was promoted from CFO to president of Barnes & Noble. Shortly afterward company Chairman Leonard Riggio suspended an effort to take the retail operations private. “Although a relative newcomer to the retail book business, [Huseby] has quickly developed a comprehensive understanding of the unique opportunities and challenges the Company faces, and he has a vision for the future in which I am in complete accord,” Riggio says. “Mike also has a passion for bookselling, which makes him a perfect fit for this job.” Huseby says that his objective is “to enhance and unlock the value of these businesses for our shareholders. We are well-positioned in today’s dynamic reading and learning markets and confident in our ability to provide our customers with the best content offerings, digital media and educational products available in today’s marketplace.”
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