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The Barnes & Noble in Bellevue, near Microsoft's HQ

We’ve heard a lot of wild M&A chatter to start off the new year, including Amazon.com’s reported interest in RIM. But here’s one of the more unusual head-scratchers.

Nat Burgess, president of Seattle area M&A shop Corum Group, recently appeared on CNBC and suggested that Microsoft should consider buying Barnes & Noble.

Now, forget for a moment that Barnes & Noble and Microsoft are locked in litigation over the use of the Android operating system in the electronic reading device, the Nook. And forget that Barnes & Noble operates more than 700 brick-and-mortar bookstores across the country.

Could something like this really take root?

In his remarks, Burgess admitted that the concept was a bit “outside the box.” But he then added that Apple has proven the power of a retail strategy. (Though Apple stores have nowhere

Nat Burgess

“Just a thought. But if Microsoft came in and picked up Barnes & Noble … they would have instant retail presence in all of the major malls in America,” said Burgess. “They would have a rapid base of readers. They could put Windows 8 in the next-generation Nook…. You asked me to talk about the deals I want to see.  Not the ones that are the most likely. But that could be a very interesting one.”

Maybe it’s not so far-fetched.

During Corum’s 2012 M&A Forecast today, Burgess brought up the idea again noting that he recently chatted with a friend at Microsoft about the retail concept. “He confirmed that the strategies behind such a deal are now in place, but I am not buying Barnes & Noble stock yet,” Burgess said.

Here are Burgess’ remarks from his appearance on CNBC a couple weeks ago. Interestingly, since then, Barnes & Noble has lost even more of its market value and announced that it was considering spinning off its Nook business unit.

Now, that could get really interesting if Microsoft jumped into the e-reader business as a direct rival to Seattle’s Amazon.com. It would also be an interesting way to avoid the Android litigation. Stranger things have happened.

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