Best Buy CEO to Stay in Post After Board Ends Conduct Probe

(Bloomberg) -- Best Buy Co. said Chief Executive Officer Corie Barry would remain at the company after concluding a probe into her personal conduct, bringing a potentially damaging situation to a swift resolution.

“The Board takes allegations of misconduct seriously regardless of who is the subject,” Best Buy said in a statement Tuesday. “Ms. Barry fully cooperated with the review, which has now concluded. The Board supports the continued leadership of the Company by Ms. Barry.”

In December, the board received an anonymous letter containing allegations against Barry, and hired the law firm Sidley Austin LLP to conduct an independent review. The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 17 that Barry was in a romantic relationship with former Senior Vice President Karl Sanft, citing a copy of the letter, which alleged the relationship occurred before she took over as CEO last year.

Sanft later denied the allegations in an email to the local Star Tribune. The board found no reason to believe that Sanft was lying when he made that denial, according to a person familiar with the probe, who asked not to be identified as the investigation was private.

Best Buy’s shares rose as much as 1.2% in extended trading. They had declined 3.6% since the allegations emerged.

Corporate Culture

The investigation was a distraction as Best Buy prepares to report holiday sales on Feb. 27 and served as an unpleasant reminder of the freewheeling corporate culture that characterized the retailer’s earlier days.

Former CEO Brian Dunn resigned in 2012 after an inappropriate relationship with a 29-year-old employee, with founder Richard Schulze stepping down as chairman shortly afterward for failing to tell the board. Dunn was replaced by Hubert Joly, who turned the company around and served as a mentor to Barry.

“I appreciate the Board’s support and look forward to continuing to execute on our strategic vision,” Barry said in the statement.

Sanft left Best Buy in March and is now chief operating officer at 24 Hour Fitness USA Inc., a fitness club operator based in Carlsbad, California. “We respect Best Buy’s legal process and are pleased the investigation has concluded,” 24 Hour Fitness said.

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