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Circuit City Auction Begins Today

New York — Circuit City’s attorneys will begin accepting bids for the bankrupt consumer electronics chain today at noon.

The two-day auction process, which will be held at the lawyers’ Times Square offices here, was delayed for 24 hours as the retailer received “expressions of interest” from potential bidders to keep the company in business.

The company said it is also needed the additional time to continue exploring financing alternatives.

The auction will begin today with bids for the chain’s “miscellaneous assets,” which include inventory, property, Internet operations, Firedog assets and corporate airplanes. Wal-Mart is among six bidders for Circuit City leases.

A store-closing auction for all inventory, fixtures, furniture and equipment at Circuit City’s retail stores, warehouses and distribution centers begins Jan. 14 at noon.

The critical “going concern” auction, which will determine whether Circuit City continues operations, begins Jan. 14 at 3 p.m. Two “highly motivated and interested parties” have largely completed due diligence on the company and are close to making a deal to buy the business or provide additional financing as it restructures, the retailer revealed last week.

All offers will be evaluated by Circuit City and representatives of the creditors’ committee, and the highest bidders could enter a final auction on Jan. 15. A hearing to approve the sale will be held in a Richmond, Va., bankruptcy court on Friday. That’s when the company’s credit facility expires and the retailer will be unable to continue operations.

Circuit City said in court papers that allowing it to continue operating on a national or regional basis through a buyout or alternative financing would be in the best interests of the company and its creditors. It said it is “optimistic” that it could strike such a deal with one of its as yet unnamed white-knight bidders.Speculation on their identities centers on Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pliego, a banking, broadcasting and retail tycoon who controls 28 percent of Circuit City shares, and dissident shareholder Mark Wattles, who forced a shakeup of the company’s board and senior management and may be looking to meld it with Ultimate Electronics.