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Best Buy Buys Speakeasy To Buoy Small-Business Services

Best Buy has agreed to acquire broadband voice, data and IT service provider Speakeasy for approximately $97 million.

The retailer anticipates a closing date for the transaction in the first quarter of its 2008 fiscal year when Speakeasy will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Best Buy and be part of the chain’s Best Buy For Business stable of services.

The Seattle-based Speakeasy had calendar year 2006 revenue of $80 million and employs about 300 people. In 2006, it had more than 40,000 customers, according to a Best Buy release.

“Best Buy For Business is all about helping small businesses grow or operate more efficiently through technology. By joining forces with Speakeasy, a company with a true passion for helping entrepreneurs run their businesses, we are making technology more accessible to small businesses by creating a single source for their IT needs,” said Darren Jackson, Best Buy executive VP and chief financial officer. “With Speakeasy in our portfolio, we are better equipped to provide our small-business customers with one-stop shopping for all of their technology needs. Our goal is to provide small businesses with the resources they need so that they can focus squarely on their customers instead of on technology.”

Speakeasy opened in Seattle in 1994 as one of the nation’s first Internet cafes and now offers a full range of voice and data solutions to small businesses, including business-class broadband and VoIP. Speakeasy’s services are available in most metropolitan areas within the 48 contiguous United States.

Speakeasy CEO Bruce Chatterley will continue in his current role upon the close of the acquisition and will report to David Hemler, VP, who has oversight for Best Buy For Business. The entire Speakeasy executive team will remain with the company.

“We have a high regard for Speakeasy’s employees, their culture and their valued relationships with customers and vendors,” Jackson said in a release. “They have a strong customer service-oriented approach, which is an excellent fit with Best Buy’s culture and direction.”

“This is an exciting new chapter for Speakeasy,” said Chatterley. “By joining with Best Buy For Business, we aim to become the champion for small business IT and communications solutions, simplifying technology, making it accessible, and improving business performance.”

Best Buy For Business services are available through locations within 281 Best Buy stores in the United States, via the and by phone.

The acquisition comes a month after Best Buy announced its brick-and-mortar base by 90 additional flagship stores in the next 12 months.

At that time, president/COO Brian Dunn explained the decision. “We are intensely focused on driving the earnings growth of Best Buy,” said Dunn. “We are allocating our capital to extend our growth runway, build business capabilities and enter new markets and customer segments. We continue to find prime new store locations, allowing us to attract new customers, to serve our current customers better and to grow our market share profitably.”