The news at a glance

Barnes & Noble: Liberty Media pounces; Music: Apple heads into the cloud; Regulation: Google warned on drug sales; Television: Ebersol’s exit dims NBC’s Olympic hopes; Scandals: Hedge-fund queen spies on staff

Barnes & Noble: Liberty Media pounces

Liberty Media, the holding company of cable pioneer John Malone, has offered $17 a share, or roughly $1 billion, for struggling book retailer Barnes & Noble, said The price is 20 percent above B&N’s share price just before the bid was disclosed. Last year the bookseller “vigorously fought off” a partial-takeover offer from grocery mogul Ron Burkle, saying it undervalued the company. But Malone’s bid, unlike Burkle’s, has the backing of B&N co-founder and chairman Leonard Riggio, who owns 30 percent of the company. And Malone’s proposal received a strong endorsement from David Shanks, CEO of Penguin Books, one of the industry’s largest publishers.

Malone has been reading Warren Buffett’s playbook, said Brett Pulley and Matthew Townsend in Like the Berkshire Hathaway CEO, Malone owns “a mix of businesses picked for their individual merit rather than combined synergies.” And like Buffett, Malone provides capital and management support, and then gets out of the way. He can help B&N develop its Nook electronic reader—its Android operating system, he believes, will become the industry standard—and guide its transition to a largely digital business.

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Music: Apple heads into the cloud

Apple has signed licensing deals with three of the four major music labels that would allow the company to offer a cloud-based music service as early as June, said Frank Michael Russell in the San Jose Mercury News. Subscribers would be able to mirror their music collections on Apple’s servers—the remote “cloud”—then stream the songs through any authorized device. The deals with EMI Group, Sony, and Warner Music (Universal Music Group has yet to sign on) give Apple an edge over rivals Google and Amazon, whose music services lack “the blessings of the big labels.”

Regulation: Google warned on drug sales

Federal regulators have repeatedly warned Google that many online pharmacies that advertise on its network are violating U.S. law, said Thomas Catan and Amir Efrati in The Wall Street Journal. The online-advertising titan could face “allegations that it aided illegal online activity” if investigators find that Google knowingly accepted ads from illegal drug sellers. Google said that it vets online advertisers, but conceded that a few rogue pharmacies might have slipped through.

Television: Ebersol’s exit dims NBC’s Olympic hopes

The resignation of legendary broadcast executive Dick Ebersol from NBC has raised doubts that the network can retain its tight hold on the Olympics, said Tom Lowry and Stuart Levine in NBC has broadcast every summer Olympiad since 1988 and has locked up the 2012 Summer Games in London, but it could face deep-pocketed competition for subsequent games. “Sports rights don’t come cheap,” and Comcast, NBC’s new owner, says it’s unwilling to lose money on the broadcasts. NBC lost more than $200 million on the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

Scandals: Hedge-fund queen spies on staff

Elena Ambrosiadou, who heads one of Europe’s most successful hedge funds, has been ordered by a British court to pay “substantial” damages for spying on a former employee, said Sam Jones in the Financial Times. Tobin Gover, “a top financial mathematician” formerly employed by Ambrosiadou’s Ikos fund, said he and his wife had been befriended by a woman who turned out to have been hired by Ambrosiadou to sniff out secrets about his new venture. Ambrosiadou didn’t contest Gover’s invasion-of-privacy suit and will pay damages.

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