Schulze’s Deadline for Best Buy Bid Pushed Back

Schulze’s Deadline for Best Buy Bid Pushed Back

Best Buy’s stock, which had jumped Thursday on speculation that Richard Schulze was poised to make a takeover bid, returned Friday to where it had been trading previously, following news that Schulze’s deadline has been pushed back to February.

The deadline for Richard Schulze to submit his takeover bid for Best Buy Company, Inc., has been extended until February.

The Richfield-based electronics retailer said Friday that the two parties “mutually agreed” to amend an earlier agreement, which reportedly required Schulze to make a bid by Sunday. Under the terms of the amended deal, Schulze will be allowed to submit a bid between February 1 and February 28.

If Schulze submits an offer during that window, Best Buy’s board will review and take a position on the bid within 30 days, the company said.

“Both parties believe that allowing Mr. Schulze to bring his offer after the holiday season and fiscal year end is in the best interests of shareholders and provides Mr. Schulze and his potential partners with an opportunity to include the company’s full-year results as part of their due diligence review,” the company said.

Best Buy reiterated that there is no guarantee that Schulze will make an offer, or that the board would accept it if he did.

News of Schulze’s deadline extension came one day after the Star Tribune, citing unnamed sources, reported that Schulze was expected to make a bid this week. The company’s stock price jumped on the speculation, closing up nearly 16 percent Thursday at $14.12.

Friday morning, on the heels of Best Buy’s announcement that Schulze’s deadline had been extended, the company’s shares were trading down about 15 percent at $12.03.

The extension allows Schulze to review Best Buy’s full-year results, including its performance during the holidays. It also gives him more time to arrange financing and line up partners for the deal; an undisclosed source told Reuters on Thursday that he didn’t have financing lined up in time for a December bid.

Schulze, who founded Best Buy in 1966 as a single stereo shop in St. Paul and long served as its chairman, resigned from Best Buy’s board in June on the heels of a scandal involving ex-CEO Brian Dunn.

Schulze announced in August his interest in potentially taking Minnesota’s third-largest public company private. He said at the time that he was considering a bid of $24 to $26 per share; the company said at the time that the action was an “unsolicited, highly conditional indication of interest.”

Initial talks between Schulze and Best Buy’s board broke down in mid-August, but later that month the two sides struck a deal that granted Schulze access to the company’s non-public financial information in order to put together a formal buyout offer. The amended agreement, which pushes Schulze’s deadline back to February and was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, can be accessed here.

The ongoing Schulze saga comes when Best Buy is struggling. The company reported a net loss of $13 million, or 4 cents per share, from continuing operations for the quarter that ended November 3. That’s compared to net earnings of $173 million, or 47 cents per share, for the same period a year ago. Excluding restructuring charges, the company’s net loss totaled $10 million, or 3 cents per share—falling significantly short of the 12 cents that analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting.

The company has cut jobs and closed big-box stores this year. It has also seen an exodus of leaders and significantly altered its executive roster.

The latest appointment is Sharon McCollam, a former Williams-Sonoma executive, who joined Best Buy as chief financial officer this month.

McCollam was the latest leader added to Best Buy’s team since Hubert Joly was named president and CEO in September. Another recent hire was Scott Durchslag, who was named senior vice president and president of online and global e-commerce.

It’s unclear who among Best Buy’s current leaders would remain and comprise Schulze’s team if a buyout occurs, although Schulze previously said that he has tapped former Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson and former President and Chief Operating Officer Al Lenzmeier to serve in some capacity, in the event that his takeover is successful.

A Star Tribune report from early September indicated that some analysts believe that Joly could remain in his position even if a private takeover occurs. Joly reportedly has close ties to Anderson, who has indicated he’s not interested in returning to the CEO position.

Joly has yet to outline a detailed blueprint for Best Buy’s turnaround, although his plan is reportedly expected to come in phases. He has also indicated that he’s “not a big fan of shrinking the company” and wants the retailer to maximize sales with its existing stores.

Anthony C. Chukumba, senior vice president and senior equity research analyst for the consumer group at Richmond, Virginia-based BB&T Capital Markets, told Twin Cities Business on Thursday that it’s too early to expect Joly’s turnaround plans to have taken hold, partly because he’s still building out a senior management team.

“The earliest that we would really start to see a positive impact from his turnaround plan is middle- to late-next fiscal year,” Chukumba said, adding that Joly is likely now focused on getting through the holiday season.

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