Best Buy Founder Might Be Retreating From Plan To Buy Company Back

Since stepping down as chairman of the board of Best Buy last year, company founder Richard Schulze has been trying to rally investors in an effort to buy the company back from shareholders. But a new report claims that Schulze is now considering a more modest plan.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Schulze, who already owns 20% of the company, appears to be backing off his scheme to purchase the remaining shares. Instead, he is talking to investors about getting together to buy a second minority stake in Best Buy. This stake would probably be separate from what Schulze personally holds.

Schulze still has until the end of the month to present his bid to the Best Buy board. The Journal’s source says that it’s possible he might ultimately go ahead with his initial plan to take the company private.

It’s been a rocky year for Best Buy, with the sudden departure of CEO Brian Dunn under a cloud of scandal. Schulze’s decision to step down came soon after. Meanwhile, the company’s stock continued to sink.

When he began making his play to take back the company in August, Best Buy shares were selling at around $17, down nearly $10/share from only four months earlier. The share price continued to drop, bottoming out at $11 around Christmas.

However, Best Buy’s holiday sales — especially its online revenue — were a pleasant surprise to many on Wall Street, and the share price has rebounded to around $16.

Some believe that these positive results could help Schulze convince investors that Best Buy is a viable brand with room to expand. On the other hand, it could be argued that the new leadership of CEO Hubert Joly should be given a chance to prove this is not a fluke.

Whatever Schulze’s bid ends up being, the board will have 30 days to respond after they receive it.