Best Buy to Continue Probe of Ousted CEO

As Best Buyworks on hashing out the terms of CEO Brian Dunn’s resignation, speculation continues about who ultimately will lead the electronics retailer.

Brian Dunn
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Brian Dunn

Dunn abruptly resignedon Tuesday after Best Buy began investigating allegations of personal misconduct.

Best Buy spokesman Greg Hitt said Dunn's resignationhas "certainly had an effect on the investigation, but the investigation remains open."

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday, the company said G. Mike Mikan, a board member who was chosen to serve as an interim CEO while the company searches for a permanent successor, will remain on the board, but will step down from the board’s audit and compensation committees.

In an interview on CNBC’s "Squawk Box,"Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management, said that boards have a duty to quickly investigate charges of misconduct and address them.

“This happens sadly periodically, and boards that cover it up make a huge mistake,” Sonnenfeld said. “It’s an issue of trust, of integrity. If you can’t set the model at the top, you really can’t enforce it cascading down through the organization.”

Sonnenfeld named several people who he expects could be candidates for the position at Best Buy. Among them is Brad Anderson, Dunn’s predecessor, who retired in June 2011.

“They pushed out an excellent guy way too early,” Sonnenfeld said, regarding Anderson.

He also named John Eyler, the former CEO of Toys ‘R Us, and Jim Donald, formerly of Starbucks, as other potential candidates.

Donald has a lot of experience in the retail industry, having worked for Wal-Mart Stores and several grocery store chains before joining Starbucks, and he has a track record of successfully turning around companies. He currently is the CEO of Extended Stay Hotels.

Meanwhile, Mikan has been a Best Buy director since 2008 and formerly served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of UnitedHealth Group .

The 51-year-old Dunn was Best Buy’s third CEOin its history, including Richard Schulze, the company’s founder. Schulze, who serves as the company’s chairman, will be part of the search committee.

Analysts are hoping Best Buy will reach beyond company insidersto find someone who can rethink the company’s business model and reinvigorate the company’s stores to compete against online retailers such as and Apple , who have been gaining market share in the electronics business.

Sonnenfeld also noted that there is often a "convenient convergence" between poor performance and investigations into an executive's conduct.

"There are many companies that tolerate integrity issues when performance is good," he said. "In the two years Brian Dunn has been on the job, the stock had already fallen by a third before we see the disappointing losses over the last year."

—Jennifer Leigh Parker contributed to this report.

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