Best Buy founder offers to buy company

A sign is posted in front of a Best Buy store April 10, 2012 in New York City. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(AP) MINNEAPOLIS - Best Buy's (BBY) founder said Monday that he wants to take the electronics retailer private by buying up all of its shares he doesn't already own in a deal that values the company at as much as $8.84 billion.

The news sent Best Buy shares up 24 percent in premarket trading.

Richard Schulze also served as the Minneapolis-based company's chairman until resigning in June amid a scandal involving its CEO. Schulze said he wants to pay between $24 and $26 per share for Best Buy, which represents a 36 percent to 47 percent premium over the company's Friday closing stock price.

Based on Best Buy's 339.9 million outstanding shares, the offer values the company at $8.16 billion to $8.84 billion.

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Schulze is Best Buy's largest shareholder, controlling 20.1 percent of its shares. At $26 per share, he would pay a total of about $6.9 billion for the rest of the company.

The former executive said he would have preferred to pursue a deal privately, but a deal needs to happen quickly.

"I am deeply concerned that further delay and indecision will cause additional loss of both value and talented leaders who are now uncertain of the company's future," Schulze said in a statement.

In his letter to Best Buy's board, Schulze said he's developed a plan to deal with the company's challenges and has talked with private equity firms. Schulze said he would finance the deal through a combination of private equity investments, about $1 billion of his own equity and debt.

Best Buy has been shrinking store size and focusing on its more-profitable products such as mobile phones. It's also trying to combat the so-called "showrooming" of its stores - when people browse at Best Buy but purchase electronics goods elsewhere, especially online.

In April, it announced a major restructuring that includes closing 50 stores, cutting 400 corporate jobs and trimming $800 million in costs.

The same month, then-CEO Brian Dunn left amid allegations that he violated company policy by having an inappropriate relationship with a female employee. An investigation related to the matter resulted in the ouster of founder and chairman Richard Schulze, who knew about the relationship and failed to alert the board or human resources.

In early July, Best Buy said it would lay off 600 staffers in its Geek Squad technical support division and 1,800 other store workers.

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