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Mexican Billionaire Buys Millions of Circuit City Stock

18 Nov, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

It may be bankrupt, but No. 2 consumer electronics retailer Circuit City Stores is apparently a shrewd investment to Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pliego, who acquired more than 30 million shares of the Richmond, Va.-based chain, becoming its largest shareholder.

Pliego, whose Grupo Salinas owns a chain of electronics stores in Latin America and Mexican broadcast channel TV Azteca, among other properties, bought 5.3 million shares Nov. 12 for 22 cents per share (for a total of $1.1 million), 19.8 million shares Nov. 13 for 24 cents ($4.7 million), and 5.2 million shares Nov. 14 for 26 cents ($1.3 million), according to regulatory filings.

No explanation for the stock purchases was given.

The business tycoon’s total share count tops 47.2 million, or 28% of outstanding common stock.

Previous top individual shareholder Mark Wattles holds a 6.5% stake in the company.

Wattles was instrumental in the resignation of CEO Philip Schoonover, and commandeered the appointment of three handpicked executives to Circuit City’s board, including acting president and CEO James Marcum.

Wattles, who owns Colorado-based Ultimate Electronics retail chain, was not immediately available for comment.

Circuit City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Nov. 10.

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