Richard Schulze Reportedly Has Month To Buy Best Buy

 @angeloyoung_a.young@ibtimes.com
on November 09 2012 11:41 AM
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People line up early in the morning to purchase the RIM PlayBook at a Best Buy store in Toronto, April 19, 2011. On Friday it was reported that founder and largest individual shareholder Richard Schulze has been given a 30-day extension to a deadline to put up an offer or back off to allow CEO Hubert Joly time to implement his turnaround strategy. Reuters/Mark Blinch

He was due to make a bid sometime around the middle of this month, but now Richard Schulze has reportedly been granted a 30-day extension to a deadline for making an offer to shareholders to take Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE: BBY) private.

The extension would give the 71-year-old founder of the beleaguered multinational electronics retailer that has seen its stock price plummet 44 percent in the past year extra time to see how the company performs in the peak holiday shopping season. If any offer for the Richfield, Minn.-based chain is made it will surely be less than Schulze’s offer he made in August, when the company’s stock was trading $5 higher from its Friday price of around $15.

Schulze, who owns about 20 percent of the company, has completed the due diligence process with at least three private equity firms, according to a report Friday by Reuters. The company’s board had initially given Shulze and his team 60 days to review non-publicly available financials and make a bid in return for a moratorium on further action, in order to give the board time to focus on rescuing the troubled company.

In August, former CEO of Vivendi Universal Games and head of Carlson Wagonlit Travel Hubert Joly was hired as Best Buy’s chief executive charged with turning around the company that has been hit hard by the rise of mobile e-commerce technology. Best Buy is trying to re-invent itself as a leaner company, steering away from the big-box model, re-inventing its Web-based merchandising and propagating hundreds of smaller Best Buy Mobile chains.  

Though all parties are not talking publicly about details (Reuters cites an anonymous source familiar with the negotiations), three private equity firms have been named as partners in the deal: Apollo Global Management LLC, Leonard Green & Partners LP, TPG Capital LP.

The initial offer of $24 to $26 a share would have set the price tag at between $8 billion and $9 billion, not including the approximately $2 billion in debt that would also have to be paid off. The company’s current market cap is $5.1 billion.

On Monday the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that a deal would be made next week, after Joly outlined his plans to shareholders at a scheduled event in New York, quoting Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, as saying the offer “won’t be as high” as the one tabled this summer.  The news sent the stock prick up from a 52-week low; it has gained over 1 percent in the past three days as shareholders hold on to the stock in anticipation that a deal would be made that would give them a return higher than the current stock price.

If actualized, the buyout would be the largest public-to-private deal this year. In July, Peet's Coffee & Tea Inc. of Emoryville, Calif., began the process of being acquired by Joh. A. Benckiser for about $1 billion, about 29 percent above the company’s share price at the time. In April, New York's Centerbridge Partners LP said it was buying P.F. Chang's China Bistro of Scottsdale, Ariz., for $1.09 billion, a 40 percent premium over the restaurant chain’s stock price at the time the deal was announced.

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