DASHED DEAL: Bertelsmann AG's recent move to shell out $200 million for 50% of Barnes & Noble Inc.'s online division sent the stock of rival bookseller Amazon.com Inc. falling. But things might have been different: Amazon, it turns out, was the German company's first choice.
Bertelsmann talked with Amazon about buying some or all of the company, say Bertelsmann chief Thomas Middelhoff and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. They held extensive meetings in New York and Seattle as well as a visit to Bertelsmann's headquarters in Europe by Mr. Bezos on his way to a vacation in Turkey. While neither mogul was specific, negotiations reportedly broke down over Amazon's lofty price tag -- it's worth $4.67 billion as of Wednesday's market close.
Now the competition between Bertelsmann and Amazon could enter the music world. People familiar with the situation say online music seller N2K Inc., which is in merger negotiations with rival CDnow Inc., has already had talks with Bertelsmann and could revisit the idea of a partnership or acquisition of the combined company once the deal goes through. Bertelsmann has been sniffing for an online music retail play, these people say.