Best Buy CFO to leave, latest executive departure

Electronics chain Best Buy seeking new chief financial officer with Muehlbauer stepping down

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Best Buy said Tuesday that its chief financial officer is leaving, the latest executive departure for the struggling electronics chain.

The news comes as Best Buy's founder and former chairman Richard Schulze mulls an offer for the company, which is attempting to improve results amid tough competition.

Best Buy says it is seeking a new chief financial officer to replace James Muehlbauer. Muehlbauer, who joined Best Buy in 2002, became interim CFO in 2007 and was named to the post permanently the following year.

He will continue to advise the company until the end of the 2013 fiscal year, which ends Feb. 3.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Muehlbauer will receive a lump sum payment of $1.4 million as part of his separation benefits.

It's the second major personnel move this month since turnaround expert Hubert Joly, joined the company in August. Former CEO Brian Dunn left in April amid a company investigation into an "improper relationship" with a 29-year-old female employee.

Last week the company named Expedia executive Scott Durchslag as senior vice president of Best Buy and president online and global e-commerce.

Meanwhile founder Schulze is pursuing a possible buyout of the company. He already owns 20 percent of the Minneapolis retailer's stock, and has suggested that he could pay $24 to $26 per share for the chain.

Best Buy is fighting to reverse a decline in its business due to a weak global economy and consumers' changing shopping habits. Best Buy's stores are becoming unprofitable as customers increasingly use them to browse for electronics, then buy them cheaper online or elsewhere. On top of that, shoppers are no longer snapping up big TVs and computers, opting instead for smaller gadgets like cellphones and tablets.

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