Richard Schulze, Best Buy Co.’s founder and largest shareholder (BBY:US), informed the consumer electronics retailer that he plans to sell an undisclosed amount of its stock to diversify his assets and raise money.
Under the prearranged plan, Schulze can sell Best Buy stock between Oct. 1 and March 2014 at prevailing market rates, subject to minimum price thresholds, the Richfield, Minnesota-based company said yesterday in a securities filing (BBY:US). Schulze, 72, will have no control over the timing of the sale.
Shares of Best Buy have doubled in the past year after Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly, who took charge in September, matched rivals’ online prices and cut annual costs by $390 million through Aug. 3. The company sold its 50 percent interest in a European smartphone joint venture with Carphone Warehouse Group Plc (CPW) for about $775 million.
“The guy’s net worth has doubled in the past year,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst (BBY:US) at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. He rates Best Buy as underperform, the equivalent of a sell rating. “Why not take some off the table?”
Best Buy dropped 2.2 percent to $35.02 at the close in New York. The shares have almost tripled this year, the second-biggest gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index after Netflix Inc. (NFLX:US)
Schulze, who owns about 21 percent of Best Buy, proposed a buyout of the retailer a year ago for as much as $26 a share. He was unable to line up debt and equity funding by a February deadline, according to people familiar with the matter. He then rejoined the board as chairman emeritus and nominated two directors to the board.
Schulze didn’t return a telephone call seeking comment. Matt Furman, a Best Buy spokesman, said the company declined to comment about the planned sale.
Schulze told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in June that he and his wife, Maureen, plan to donate half of their net worth through the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, increasing its worth to about $1 billion from $100 million, primarily to help kindergarten through 12th grade education and medical research.
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