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While Best Buy watchers expected an internal probe to lift the lid on what turned out to be an “inappropriate relationship” between its former chief executive and a female subordinate, nobody expected it to claim the scalp of the electronics group’s founder and chairman, Richard Schulze.
He had failed to tell other board members that Brian Dunn, the chief executive who resigned last month, was alleged to have been having such a relationship, the probe concluded. For that lapse Mr Schulze will next month step down from the company he founded in 1966 as The Sound of Music.
The probe report said the inappropriate relationship involved lunches and drinks, gifts of concert tickets and sports events, time spent alone in Mr Dunn’s office and conference rooms, and a torrent of mobile communication.
The relationship has cost Best Buy two of its most important leaders as it struggles to win investor confidence and staunch a loss of sales to online rivals.
Mr Dunn has not commented publicly on the allegations since he quit. He and the female employee told investigators that the relationship was “a close friendship that was not romantic or otherwise improper”.
Investigators said the relationship became sufficiently well known at Best Buy headquarters for it to create gossip, friction and disruption. Even if it was just a friendship, they said, it “reflected extremely poor judgment by the CEO”.