Richard Schulze, the founder of Best Buy, won't take "no" for an answer. Earlier this summer, Schulze had floated the idea of acquiring the electronics retailer he once led, but talks reached an impasse in mid-August. However, negotiations have been revived in the wake of Best Buy's dismal quarterly earnings and investor skepticism that its newly appointed CEO, Hubert Joly, can turn the company around. This week, Best Buy said it would give Schulze access to its financial information in what amounts to a green light for Schulze to make an offer. Yet the company still faces a threat from Amazon and other online retailers that sell the same goods for less money, and it's an open question whether Best Buy's founder can even save the company. Is a Schulze buyout a good idea?
No. Best Buy needs new blood: Schulze "knows the company well, and has been a motivator" of Best Buy as it grew and "became a leader in selling technology," says Walter Loeb at Forbes. But "the retail environment for technology has changed" and "competition is fierce through e-retailers like Amazon and eBay." Best Buy needs to "develop a stronger internet presence, close stores, and revitalize existing units," and it's not clear whether Schulze understands that.
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But investors have more confidence in Schulze: When Best Buy announced the appointment of Joly, who has no experience in retail, investors "pushed the stock down by 10 percent," says Dhanya Skariachan at Reuters. Meanwhile, Best Buy stocks soared nearly 8 percent on the breakthrough in negotiations between Schulze and the company's board. At the very least, it indicates that shareholders believe Schulze can offer something more than the turnaround plan Best Buy is currently offering.
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Schulze must devise a better plan: With Best Buy opening its books, the pressure is on Schulze "to show he has a real deal up his sleeve," says Ryan Dezember at The Wall Street Journal. In addition to offering a feasible turnaround plan, he must find financial backers who believe in the project and are willing to bankroll it. The company "has pushed forward with its own plans for a turnaround" with Joly, and the onus is on Schulze to show that he can do better.
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