Best Buy chairman, founder to step down next month

More turnover at Best Buy as the company's founder and board chairman Richard Schulze steps down at the end of its annual meeting on June 21.

Just a month after Best Buy's former CEO Brian Dunn resigned , the company's founder and chairman has stepped down from his post on the retailer's board.

Best Buy announced today that its founder, Richard Schulze, will be replaced as board chairman by Hatim Tyabji on June 21 at the end of the company's annual shareholders meeting. Tyabji currently servers as the chair of the board's audit committee and is chairman and CEO of video optimization services provider Bytemobile.

"The story of Best Buy is a remarkable American success story," Tyabji said today in a statement. "Dick's leadership and vision changed the landscape of American retail, and he will forever be remembered as an iconic entrepreneur. We join Best Buy's 167,000 employees in thanking him."

Although Schulze will no longer be chairman, he plans to serve as chairman emeritus, an honorary position, and will stay on the board through June 2013 when his term ends.

In addition to announcing Schulze's resignation, Best Buy said that a law firm it hired, WilmerHale, concluded its investigation into the conduct of former CEO Dunn. An independent investigation revealed that he had "an extremely close personal relationship with a female employee that negatively impacted the work environment," adding that the relationship "demonstrated extremely poor judgment and a lack of professionalism." However, the investigation also revealed that he did not "misuse" any company resources.

A key component in that investigation, which might have led to a changeover on Best Buy's board, was the law firm's revelation that Schulze did not bring the matter to the board in December when he learned of the relationship.

"In addition, as part of the investigation, it was determined that the chairman of the board of directors acted inappropriately when he failed to bring the matter to the audit committee of the board of directors in December 2011, when the allegations were first raised with him," Best Buy said today in a statement.

For his part, Schulze said that he informed Dunn that his alleged conduct was unacceptable.

"In December, when the conduct of our then-CEO was brought to my attention, I confronted him with the allegations (which he denied), told him his conduct was totally unacceptable and contrary to Best Buy's policies and everything I, and the Company, stand for," Schulze said today in a statement. "I understand and accept the findings of the Audit Committee."

Finally, the board has decided that all members will be declassified, meaning they will all need to stand for reelection on an annual basis.

Best Buy is trading up 29 cents today following news of the board shakeup to $19.57.

 

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