Best Buy founder Richard Schulze’s bid to purchase the company may have ended in disappointment but that doesn’t mean Schulze plans to go into exile anytime soon.
Last Friday, Schulze visited the retailer’s headquarters in Richfield and spoke at some length with CEO Hubert Joly, according to a source close to Schulze.
The company declined to comment.
Perhaps Schulze gave Joly some clue about whether he will rejoin the board of directors. He is entitled to fill the two board seats the company granted him because of his 20 percent stake.
Schulze, the source said, remains “disappointed” that he failed to retake control of the the company. After abandoning an outright buyout bid last month, Schulze and his private equity partners went to Plan B: Texas Pacific Capital, Cerberus Capital Management, and Leonard Green would purchase minority stakes in Best Buy, entitling them each to one board seat.
Combined with Schulze’s two seats, the allies would essentially control more than half of Best Buy’s 11-member board and perhaps restore Schulze back to chairman. But the board resisted Schulze’s campaign for chairman and ultimately rejected bids by the private equity firms to pay between $400 million to $700 million for minority stakes in the company.
In a regulatory filing, Schulze said he hasn't yet decided whether to fill his board seats. If he doesn’t nominate anyone, the company will nominate its own candidates.
As a director, Schulze would need to demonstrate a certain degree of obedience to Best Buy’s leadership. But as an outsider, Schulze could make yet another attempt at a later time to remake the board to his liking and reclaim his position as chairman, experts say.
The source close to Schulze said he “doubts” the founder will rejoin the board.
Nevertheless, Schulze seems to enjoy at the very least a cordial relationship with Joly.
After initially distrusting the Frenchman, Schulze has warmed up to Best Buy’s new CEO. Friday’s meeting marked the second time in recent months the two chatted in person. The day before Thanksgiving, Joly talked strategy with Schulze and former CEO Brad Anderson and former vice chairman Al Lenzmeier.
In the regulatory filing, Schulze said the company “deserves a chance to implement its own plan.”
Whether Schulze will have any direct role in that plan remains to be seen.