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Report: Best Buy Founder May Seek Buyout Deal

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Best Buy Co. founder Richard Schulze may be considering a bid to take the electronics retailer private, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

The report, citing people familiar with Schulze’s thinking, sent Best Buy shares higher Tuesday afternoon. The stock closed up 5 percent.

Richard Schulze, 71, founded the company in 1966 and is its largest shareholder by far with a 20 percent stake. The second-largest holder, the mutual fund manager Fidelity Management & Research Co., has 6.9 percent.

Schulze said earlier this month that he was considering options for his stake.

The WSJ report reiterated that Schulze could still sell his stake. But it said his “preference” is to take the company private, although the process of finding potential buyout partners is in the early stages.

Schulze initially announced in May that he would step down on June 21 at the company’s annual meeting after an investigation found he knew that the then CEO Brian Dunn was having an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer. At the time he said he would remain as chairman until after the company’s annual meeting on June 21 and as a director through the 2013 annual meeting.

However, he resigned abruptly June 7 instead.

“There is an urgent need for Best Buy to reinvigorate growth by reconnecting with today’s customers and building pathways to the next generation of consumers,” Schulze said in a statement on June 7. “Accordingly, I have shared my views with the Board and today informed them of my decision to resign as chairman and a director, effective immediately, in order to explore all available options for my ownership stake.”

Best Buy and a spokesman for Schulze declined to comment.

Shares of Best Buy rose 86 cents, or 4.7 percent, to close at $19.37. The stock slipped 11 cents in after-hours trading. The stock is down about 21 percent since the beginning of the year.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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