Wall Street Watch: Microsoft Makes Nook a REAL Player, GM Looks at a Big Investment

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will invest $300 million in Barnes & Noble’s (NYSE:BKS) Nook and College businesses. This will be combined into one unit valued at $1.7 billion. Barnes will own 82.4 percent of the unnamed company with Microsoft owning the balance at 17.6 percent. One of the venture’s first offerings will be a Nook application for Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system. In pre-market trading, Barnes’ shares have nearly doubled.

GM (NYSE:GM) will begin negotiations in March about purchasing a 10 percent stake in Isuzu Motors (ISUZY.PK). According to Nikkei, this comes as part of an agreement to jointly develop and sell commercial vehicles in Asia and Latin America. An agreement could spur Toyota (NYSE:TM) to sell its 5.9 percent Isuzu holding and do what what GM did: hook up with Peugeot.

Joining the U.K., Spain has entered into a recession for the second time since the financial crisis. Its GDP contracted 0.3 percent on the quarter, even though it had surpassed forecasts of -0.4 percent. Meanwhile in another hit to the country, S&P downgraded 11 banks, including Santander (NYSE:STD) and BBVA (NYSE:BBVA); this comes after the agency downgraded the Spanish sovereign debt two notches last week.

The European Commission is preparing a “Marshall Plan for Europe” worth EUR 200 billion to stimulate growth in Europe for countries hit hard by austerity measures including Spain. This will come from public and private investment in infrastructure, renewable energies and high technology, according to the Spanish paper El Pais. The plan will be presented at the group’s next meeting, after France’s election. Ideas from France’s presidential candidate Francis Holland have been utilized.