Best Buy Co. (BBY) founder Richard Schulze said he will resign as chairman, effective immediately, in order to explore options for his 20.1% ownership stake.
"I continue to believe in Best Buy and its future -- and care deeply about its customers, employees and shareholders," Mr. Schulze said. "There is an urgent need for Best Buy to reinvigorate growth by reconnecting with today's customers and building pathways to the next generation of consumers."
Mr. Schulze's comments come as Best Buy shares have faced pressure amid a scandal and probe that found former Chief Executive Brian Dunn engaged in an "extremely close personal relationship" with a subordinate that "negatively impacted the work environment."
The stock is off 18% this year and slipped 6% to $18.70 in recent trading. Its market value was $6.81 billion as of Wednesday's close.
Mr. Schulze, 71, was Best Buy's chief executive for 36 years, until 2002. Since then, he has continued to serve as chairman and director, and is the company's largest shareholder. He had previously planned to step down as chairman after the company's annual meeting on June 21, and remain as director for another year.
An internal probe found Mr. Schulze didn't alert other directors that Mr. Dunn was allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with the female employee. The investigation found no evidence that Mr. Dunn misused company assets.
Mr. Dunn, 51, resigned in April after the board began probing his conduct. He couldn't be immediately located for comment.
Allegations about Mr. Dunn first came to the attention of Mr. Schulze last December, when an unnamed Best Buy executive provided the chairman with a written statement from another employee, according to the board's report. But Mr. Schulze didn't pass along the information to the board's panel overseeing ethical transgressions. Instead, he confronted the CEO, who denied the allegations.
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