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Best Buy Expands Executive Ranks

Minneapolis — Best Buy today expanded its executive team by one and promoted seven company veterans to new positions. The moves come in the wake of the chain’s strong second-quarter earnings and the continued expansion of its store count, up 113 in the past 12 months

“Our strategy for driving growth is to enable our employees to build stronger relationships with customers around the world. To do this, we must continue to get better at listening to and acting on the insights and ideas these relationships generate. That requires us to adjust the way we are organized to help ensure that we are best positioned to maximize individual and collective strengths, capabilities and experiences,” said Brad Anderson, Best Buy’s vice chairman and CEO.

“Best Buy has multiple channels, multiple brands and tens of thousands of employees who can help us learn from and serve our customers in new and unique ways,” said Brian Dunn, Best Buy’s president/COO. “We believe that the organizational alignment being announced today will facilitate the ongoing growth and progress of our company.”

Darren Jackson, the company’s chief financial officer for the past seven years and, more recently, chief financial officer and head of the company’s emerging business unit, has moved to the newly created position of executive VP, customer operating groups. Jackson now leads Best Buy’s entertainment, PC mobility and home solutions operating groups and has oversight for enterprise merchandising. Best Buy Financial Services, Best Buy For Business, Magnolia Audio Video and Pacific Sales continue to report to Jackson. He has held executive positions at Carson Pirie Scott and Nordstrom. In his new capacity, Jackson reports to Dunn.

“Darren’s desire to refocus his leadership from finance to running our customer operating groups allows us to gain more clarity and accountability around the significant opportunities in front of us. Darren plays a critical role as he brings teams together to create opportunities to share expertise, create targeted solutions and ultimately drive growth by better meeting the needs of the unique customer groups within each of these brands and businesses,” Dunn said.

In Jackson’s absence, Jim Muehlbauer becomes interim chief financial officer. Muehlbauer has been at Best Buy for five years, most recently as chief financial officer of Best Buy U.S. He joined Best Buy in 2002 as the chief financial officer of Musicland. Prior to that, Muehlbauer spent 10 years with The Pillsbury Company. Muehlbauer reports to Anderson.

The company said that the executive search firm of Heidrick & Struggles has been engaged to conduct a formal search of internal and external candidates for the chief financial officer position.

Kal Patel, formerly executive VP, strategy and international, assumes responsibility for portions of the emerging business unit, previously led by Jackson. In his new role, as executive VP, emerging business SBU, Patel leads the company’s efforts to initiate, incubate and implement growth opportunities while increasing the enterprise’s capabilities for innovation. He also will focus on building relationships with venture capitalists to enable Best Buy to learn from the experiences of others and quickly adapt best practices to advance the company’s business objectives, the company said. Patel joined Best Buy in 2003. He now reports to Dunn.

Tim McGeehan, a 19-year veteran of Best Buy and current retail sales executive VP, steps into 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. McGeehan will oversee the rollout of Best Buy Mobile across North America and internationally. He began his career with Best Buy as a sales associate and advanced through the retail organization. In his new role, McGeehan will report to Robert Willett, CEO of Best Buy International and chief information officer.

With McGeehan’s move, Shari Ballard assumes responsibility for the 872 Best Buy stores in the United States as retail channel management executive VP. Ballard will focus her energies on deepening customer relationships and better utilizing the full range of talent and resources that reside within the company’s U.S. retail stores, the company said. Ballard, who has been with Best Buy since joining in 1993 as an assistant store manager, continues to have oversight for U.S. Web sites and customer car. Ballard relinquishes her role overseeing Best Buy’s human resources and legal teams, a responsibility she has held since 2004. Executive leadership for the HR function will be announced in the near future. Best Buy’s legal function will continue to report to Joe Joyce, senior VP, general counsel and assistant secretary. In her new position, Ballard reports to Dunn.

Kevin Layden, president and COO of Best Buy Canada, will become COO of Best Buy International. Layden assumes operational leadership for the company as it continues to grow its presence in Canada and China and prepares to expand into Turkey and Mexico. The top executives from each country in which Best Buy operates outside the United States will report to Layden. Layden joined Best Buy Canada (then Future Shop.) in 1997. Previously, Layden had a 17-year career with Circuit City Stores. Layden’s new role will be effective Jan. 4, 2008, and he will continue to report to Willett.

Mike Pratt becomes president of Best Buy Canada, also effective Jan. 4, 2008. Formerly senior VP for Best Buy Canada, Pratt has held numerous roles in his 17 years with Future Shop and Best Buy Canada, most recently responsible for Best Buy stores, marketing, advertising, store design and Canada’s Commercial Sales Group. Pratt continues to report to Layden.

David Berg, senior VP and COO of Best Buy International since 2006, assumes responsibility as senior VP, international strategy and corporate development. Berg is now responsible for the enterprise’s mergers and acquisition activities as well as the identification and evaluation of opportunities in new geographic markets. He continues to have overall responsibility for the company’s commercial office, including oversight of Best Buy’s relationship with Accenture as an information technology and human resources outsourced service provider. Berg joined Best Buy in 2002 as VP and associate general counsel. Berg continues to report to Willett.

The company has hired Rebecca Wanta as Best Buy’s chief information officer, North America. Wanta has over 25 years in the information technology and was the global chief technology officer for PepsiCo. Wanta joins Best Buy on Oct. 19 and will report to Willett who retains his enterprise chief information officer role.

From left: Shari Ballard, Darren Jackson, Kevin Layden and Tim McGeehan