October 3, 2012 5:27 pm

Private equity groups eye Best Buy

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Richard Schulze©Bloomberg

Richard Schulze, Best Buy’s estranged founder, has persuaded at least four private equity groups to examine the books of the US electronics retailer as he tries to assemble a takeover bid.

TPG, Cerberus Capital Management, Apollo Global Management and Leonard Green are doing due diligence on Best Buy, according to two people familiar with the situation.

But their work is preliminary and does not indicate any commitment to a deal. Last month Mr Schulze launched a tentative effort to acquire Best Buy that valued the group at nearly $9bn, excluding debt.

Best Buy shares climbed 4 per cent to $17.65 on Wednesday morning in response to the news. But they remain below Mr Schulze’s initial proposed purchase price of between $24 and $26 a share in cash.

Many analysts are sceptical about his chances of securing private equity partners for a bid given the substantial financing required and doubts about Best Buy’s ability to find a durable strategy to compete against Amazon and Apple.

Mr Schulze, who resigned from Best Buy’s board in June, owns about 20 per cent of the company.

TPG and Apollo declined to comment. Cerberus and Leonard Green did not respond to requests for comment.

In late August Best Buy granted Mr Schulze access to its books after several weeks of acrimony between the two sides.

An agreement between them gave Mr Schulze 60 days to bring forward “a fully financed definitive proposal” from the moment due diligence began, which was in the second half of September.

Best Buy has been cool on Mr Schulze’s initiative and focused instead on drawing up a new business plan under Hubert Joly, its new chief executive, who was appointed in August.

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