Originally Posted by murraypaul
Because I read it in the agreement.
The actual geographies that Microsoft require Newco to expand to are redacted, but not the existence of that requirement, and I think it is guaranteed that one of those geographies would have been the UK, and likely that the UK was (one of) the priority geography(ies) specified in subsections a) below, as the largest English-language eBook market after the US and Canada. (Possibly bigger than Canada?)
[Edit: I also think it is possible that part of Amazon's reasoning for signing Waterstones up to distribute Kindles was that they knew B&N would have to enter the UK market, and wanted to make that more painful. Successful market denial tactic for little effort]
It does not preclude that B&N was already considering the expansion before Microsoft came along. We heard rumours about B&N going overseas way before MSFT got involved, and given that not much time has elapsed since the MSFT partnership was announced, I would say that this UK business was in motion way before MSFT showed up.