Best Buy founder steps down after CEO probe

NEW YORK — Best Buy said Monday its founder Richard Schulze is stepping down as chairman after an investigation found that he knew that the CEO was having a relationship with a female employee and failed to alert the audit committee.

The company also said that despite the fact that its audit committee found that then-CEO Brian Dunn violated company policy by having a 'close personal relationship' with a female employee, he gets a severance package worth about $6.6 million.

Best Buy hired an outside law firm in March to investigate Dunn, who resigned in April. The committee found that Dunn's relationship with a female employee that showed poor judgment. But they found he did not misuse company resources or company aircraft related to the relationship.

Still, the inquiry showed that Schulze, who has been with the company since its inception in 1966, acted inappropriately when he found out about the relationship. He is resigning and will be replaced by Hatim Tyabji, chairman of its audit committee.

Schulze will receive the title chairman emeritus, an honorary position, and serve out his term as director through June 13.


"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. I understand and accept the findings of the Audit Committee," Schulze said in a statement.

Best Buy said in light of the findings it will review corporate policies and procedures. It will also recommend that shareholders approve a proposal requiring every director to stand for reelection on an annual basis.

Dunn was a 28-year company veteran who had been head of Best Buy since 2009 until he resigned in April after the board launched the investigation into his personal conduct. His severance package includes a 2012 bonus of $1.1 million, stock grants of $2.5 million, a severance payment of $2.9 million and more than $100,000 for unused vacation.

Best Buy shares fell 34 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $19.61 in morning trading after falling to $19.02 per share earlier in the session, its lowest level in more than three years.

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