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Barnes & Noble insiders exercise options

Vice chairman Steven Riggio cashes in options worth about $4.8 million, which he adds to 1998 salary and bonuses of about $800,000.

Three leading Barnes & Noble executives took advantage of an increase in the company's stock price last month to exercise stock options worth more than $6.5 million, according to federal filings.

Stephen Riggio, vice chairman of Barnes & Noble and brother of chief cxecutive Leonard Riggio, exercised options on 141,900 shares, worth about $4.8 million. Those options represent just 7 percent of Riggio's 2 million options. The transactions were revealed in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As vice chairman and a member of the board, Stephen Riggio earned a salary of $494,000 and bonuses worth $300,000 in 1998.

Barnes & Noble shares dipped as low as 25.8125 in mid-March, but steadily gained ground to rise above 40 on April 12. All of the options were exercised between April 14 and April 27, during which time the price fluctuated between 32.25 and 39. On May 6, the company's online division, a joint venture with German bookseller Bertelsmann, filed for an initial public offering.

The stock closed down 1.3125 today at 34.4375.

According to the SEC filings, David Cully, president of distribution for Barnes & Noble, exercised options on almost 27,000 shares worth $623,000 on April 26. Company director Irene Miller, a member of the board of directors, exercised options on more than 48,000 shares worth $1.1 million between April 14 and April 22.