Best Buy founder Schulze announces immediate resignation; move may signal major shake-up

This morning, Best Buy founder and chairman Richard Schulze announced his immediate resignation, two weeks earlier than planned when Schulze went public with his exit strategy last month.

But the big news is that Schulze also announced plans "to explore all available options" for his 20.1 percent ownership stake in the company.

The Star Tribune's Tom Lee writes that Schulze's announcement may signal his intention "to possibly take the struggling consumer electronics retailer private with new owners and management."

Schulze, 71, announced his planned resignation last month after an independent investigation into a sex scandal involving former CEO Brian Dunn concluded that Schulze "acted inappropriately" last December, when he was first informed of the allegations involving Dunn. Instead of informing other board members about the allegations, Schulze confronted Dunn but apparently kept the matter between the two of them.

Schulze planned to stay on at Best Buy with the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus, but today's announcement suggests his plans have changed.

"I continue to believe in Best Buy and its future--and care deeply about its customers, employees and shareholders," Schulze said in today's statement. "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."

In the wake of Schulze's immediate resignation, Best Buy announced that Hatim Tyabji, chairman of the board's audit committee since 1998, is in as new company chairman.

If Schulze indeed plans to take the company private, he and his backers will have to offer Best Buy shareholders at least $30 a share, or a total of about $12 billion, Lee reports. It's unclear if raising that sort of money is possible in today's volatile debt market.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Best Buy's stock price slid by more than 7 percent this morning following Schulze's announcement. For the year as a whole, the company's stock is down 20 percent.

Previous coverage of the Best Buy scandal and its fallout:
-- Best Buy founder Richard Schulze stepping down as chairman in wake of CEO scandal
-- Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn: Is this his mystery woman? [PHOTO]
-- Brian Dunn, former Best Buy CEO, pulled a Brodkorb
-- Best Buy: On the road to extinction?

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