Best Buy’s Musical Chairs Game For Management (BBY)

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Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) is doing a large management suffle.  Normally management shuffles spook investors and normally we don’t like to see them in good companies.  But if this was being evaluated in school or grading terms this would be a solid passing grade on the sniff test.  There isn’t the look or feel that any wrongdoings have taken place, even if you have to look into these with a finetooth comb.

  • Darren Jackson, age 42, the company’s chief financial officer for the past seven years and, more recently, CFO and head of the company’s Emerging Business unit, has moved to the newly-created position of executive vice president, Customer Operating Groups. In this role, Jackson leads Best Buy’s entertainment, PC mobility and home solutions operating groups and also has oversight for enterprise merchandising.
  • Jim Muehlbauer has agreed to serve as Best Buy’s interim CFO. Muehlbauer’s five years with Best Buy, including his current assignment as chief financial officer of Best Buy U.S., as well as his oversight of the enterprise’s investor relations, tax and controller functions, have prepared him to take on this interim responsibility.
  • Kal Patel, age 43, formerly executive vice president, Strategy and International, assumes responsibility for portions of the Emerging Business unit, previously led by Jackson.
  • Tim McGeehan, age 40, a 19-year veteran of Best Buy and current executive vice president, Retail Sales, has accepted a new enterprise role overseeing Best Buy Mobile and the enterprise’s expanding global wireless business, through its strategic relationship with The Carphone Warehouse Group PLC (CPW).
  • With McGeehan’s move to an enterprise role, Shari Ballard assumes responsibility for the 872 Best Buy stores in the United States, including territory, district staff and store personnel, as well as customer research and development, including Best Buy’s lab stores.
  • Kevin Layden, president and chief operating officer of Best Buy Canada, Ltd., will become chief operating officer of Best Buy International, the strategic business unit focused on the enterprise’s growth outside of the United States.
  • The company also has announced the hiring of Rebecca Wanta as Best Buy’s chief information officer, North America. Wanta has over 25 years in the information technology field and brings expertise in infrastructure management, enterprise architecture and common services development that translate into solutions to help companies widen their competitive advantage.

When you see major management moves like this, it often makes you scratch your head.  It certainly will make you take a deep breath.  If this was not right after a solid quarter and financing poact and if this was a depatrture it might make some traders worry.  But this management shuffle isn’t alarming on the surface.

This is also one that Jim Cramer recently talked up about Best Buy taking the weak dollar into its own hands.

Jon C. Ogg
September 26, 2007