Best Buy founder Schulze recruits executive team for buyout

July 30 (Bloomberg) -- Best Buy Co. founder Richard Schulze has been recruiting executives to help lead the retailer if his attempt to take the company private is successful, according to a senior Best Buy executive.

“He is talking to people he trusts,” J.D. Wilson, senior vice president of enterprise capabilities, said in an interview. “There is a small group he’d like to have with him in righting the ship. He is serious as a heart attack.” Wilson, who said his position is being eliminated as part of Best Buy’s cutbacks, was approached by Schulze in June and said he would work for the company if a deal went through.

Schulze also has been seeking to recruit other executives such as former Chief Executive Officer Brad Anderson, said a person familiar with the matter. Anderson has told other former Best Buy executives he is interested in joining Schulze’s effort, the person said.

Schulze, 71, has been exploring taking the world’s largest electronics retailer private after stepping down as chairman last month, a person familiar with the matter has said. An internal probe found he failed to tell the board about allegations that then-CEO Brian Dunn was having an inappropriate relationship with a female employee. Schulze said when he resigned that he would consider all options, including selling his 20 percent stake in the Richfield, Minnesota-based company.

Through a spokesman, Schulze declined to comment. Bruce Hight, a spokesman for Best Buy, declined to comment. Anderson didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Shares Rise

Best Buy rose 2.7 percent to $18.24 at 9:41 a.m. in New York after advancing as much as 5.9 percent. The shares had fallen 24 percent this year through July 27.

While Schulze has had discussions with several former executives interested in rejoining the company, he hasn’t reached an agreement with anyone, said a person familiar with the matter. He has also been speaking with potential investors and private-equity funds about raising money from them, said this person.

Best Buy has struggled as customers migrated to Amazon.com Inc. and other online merchants, posting a net loss of $1.23 billion on revenue of $50.7 billion for the fiscal year that ended in March, its first annual loss since 1991, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Same-store sales have declined in seven of the last eight quarters.

It will be challenging for Schulze to find private-equity firms willing to take on the risks associated with Best Buy and to help fund a transaction, Michael Pachter, an analyst for Wedbush Securities Inc. in Los Angeles, said last month. Best Buy’s cash flow will keep declining and the company will continue to lose money, he said.

A buyout of Best Buy would cost at least $30 a share to convince long-time investors to sell, Anthony Chukumba, an analyst at BB&T Capital Markets in New York, said last month. That would equate to a total value of about $11 billion, including net debt.

Bloomberg News

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Comments
comments powered by Disqus