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Best Buy to Go Private?

"Immediate and substantial changes are needed for the company to return to its market-leading ways."

Best Buy's co-founder is looking to make a buy of his own, offering to take the electronics seller private only months after leaving as the company's chairman.

Best Buy said it would consider the offer but called it "highly conditional." And analysts are skeptical that former Chairman Richard Schulze's opening offer of $24 to $26 per share would get a deal done and that it could be tricky to line up investment firms to help pay for it.

It's the latest twist in the Minneapolis company's struggles to stay relevant as more people buy electronics online. Over the past year, it has announced a major restructuring plan and fired CEO Brian Dunn amid allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship with a female employee.

Best Buy is trying to avoid the fate of its rival Circuit City, which went bankrupt in 2009, partly because of changing shopper habits.

The offer values the company at as much as $8.84 billion. Schulze already has 20.1 percent of the stock in the company, so paying for the rest of shares would mean coming up with about $6.9 billion.

Best Buy founder Schulze said Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, that he wants to take the electronics retailer private by buying up all of its shares he doesn't already own in a deal that values the company at as much as $8.84 billion. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chuck Stoody, File)

Schulze resigned as chairman in May, after Dunn's departure. A company investigation found that Schulze knew about the inappropriate relationship and failed to alert the board or human resources.

Schulze had been expected to stay on the board until the company's annual shareholder meeting in June, but he resigned unexpectedly before the meeting and said he was exploring options for his hefty stake in the company. Analysts had been expecting a possible bid since that announcement.

"Immediate and substantial changes are needed for the company to return to its market-leading ways," Schulze said in a statement. "It is my strong belief that Best Buy's best chance for renewed success is to implement with urgency the necessary changes as a private company."

Schulze's offer would represent a 36 percent to 47 percent premium over the company's Friday closing stock price.

Schulze said he would have preferred to pursue a deal privately but went public with the offer for the sake of speed.

"I am deeply concerned that further delay and indecision will cause additional loss of both value and talented leaders who are now uncertain of the company's future," Schulze said in a statement.

Best Buy has been shrinking store size and focusing on its more-profitable products such as mobile phones. It's also trying to combat the so-called "showrooming" of its stores - when people browse at Best Buy but purchase electronics goods elsewhere, especially online.

In March, it announced a major restructuring that includes closing 50 stores, cutting 400 corporate jobs and trimming $800 million in costs.

Since Dunn's departure, interim CEO Mike Mikan has made strong statements about how he plans to restructure the company, focusing on services and revamping stores.

In early July, Best Buy said it would lay off 600 staffers in its Geek Squad technical support division and 1,800 other store workers.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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