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Best Buy Probing Ex-CEO Brian Dunn's Alleged Relationship With Subordinate

04/12/12 08:47 PM ET AP

Brian Dunn

MINNEAPOLIS -- Best Buy Co.'s board is investigating whether its former CEO, Brian Dunn, misused company funds while carrying out a relationship with a female subordinate, reports said Thursday.

The Star Tribune in Minneapolis and The Wall Street Journal attributed their reports to people familiar with the matter. The sources were not named in the reports.

Dunn resigned abruptly Monday. The company announced the resignation Tuesday, saying it had launched an investigation into Dunn's "personal conduct" that was unrelated to its "operations or financial controls."

Dunn was a 28-year company veteran who had been head of Best Buy, the nation's largest consumer electronics chain, since 2009.

Ron Hutcheson, a spokesman for Best Buy's board, said Thursday the investigation is ongoing and said the board's findings will be made public and "appropriate action will be taken if warranted."

Hutcheson declined to comment on the details in the reports Thursday. He only said Washington, D.C.-based law firm WilmerHale is working with the board's audit investigation committee on the matter.

According to the Journal, the 29-year-old woman who was allegedly involved with Dunn worked in a leadership-training institute at the company's Richfield, Minn., headquarters. The paper said it could not be learned whether she still worked there. The newspaper didn't reveal her name.

The Star Tribune reported that the company is investigating multiple complaints of Dunn behaving inappropriately with a female subordinate.

The cloud surrounding the resignation adds to Best Buy's problems. Up until a few years ago, it was the place Americans went to buy TVs and cameras. But the chain suffered in the economic downturn and has been widely criticized for not being quick to respond to growing competition and the changing shopping habits of Americans.

The company said Thursday that it had created a search committee to find Dunn's replacement.

It said the committee will run a global search that will look at internal and external candidates. Interim CEO Mike Mikan will be among those considered for the job. Mikan formerly served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of UnitedHealth Group Inc. and chief executive officer of Optum, a health care services company affiliated with UnitedHealth.

The search could take up to nine months, Best Buy said.

Its shares ended Thursday up 28 cents at $22.24. They have lost 27 percent in last year and more than half of their value since April 2006.

Best Buy's declining value makes it among companies where employees are losing hope. Check out some other struggling companies below:
8. Eastman Kodak
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Eastman Kodak's run as a public company may be over soon. That would put the jobs of many of its 18,000 employees in jeopardy. Analysts think Kodak's patents may be worth much more than that the company. Kodak has begun the process to find a buyer for these patents. MDB Capital Group told Bloomberg that the digital-imaging patents owned by Kodak may be valued at $3 billion in a sale. A sale of patents could mean Kodak will not keep all of its divisions. Second quarter sales at the company were down 5% in the past quarter to $1.5 billion. Kodak lost $179 million in the same time period. Its Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group sales dropped 14% to $369 million for the quarter. This is the area of the company's business where it would be logical to start the next in a long line of lay-offs. Kodak's cash position has become desperate. It has $957 million on hand compared to $1.624 billion at the end of the second quarter a year ago.

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Filed by Harry Bradford  |