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Compusa Finished

Compusa Finished

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CompUSA, the computer retailer that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim owned since 2000, will shut its doors after 23 years, succumbing to competition from Best Buy Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Restructuring firm Gordon Brothers Group LLC bought the chain for an undisclosed sum and will sell or close its 103 stores after the U.S. holidays, CompUSA said yesterday. The 67- year-old Slim, Latin America's richest man, failed to turn around CompUSA after investing more than $1.5 billion in the chain over eight years.

``An orderly and expedited wind-down and asset sale process is the best option for CompUSA and its creditors at this juncture,'' Bill Weinstein, a principal at Gordon Brothers, said in a statement. Weinstein will serve as interim president of CompUSA.

Founded in 1984, CompUSA focuses on computer-related products for small companies and individuals. The chain, acquired by Slim in 2000, shut more than half of its stores earlier this year.

CompUSA was a unit of Slim's U.S. Commercial Corp. SA, which had sales last year of 37.8 billion pesos ($3.5 billion).

Richfield, Minnesota-based Best Buy, the biggest U.S. consumer electronics retailer, had revenue of $35.9 billion last year. No. 2 Circuit City Stores Inc. had sales of $12.4 billion.

Boston-based Gordon Brothers' DJM unit helped Discovery Channel Stores, Bombay Co. and Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. sell properties. It plans to sell CompUSA's TechPro technical services division and as well.

CompUSA will discount items this month to get rid of inventory, Alex Stanton, spokesman for Gordon Brothers, said in an interview. He declined to comment further.

Arturo Elias, a spokesman for Slim, didn't return a call seeking comment.

23-Year History

CompUSA was founded as Soft Warehouse in Dallas in 1984 by Mike Henochowicz and Errol Jacobson. The chain opened its first retail store in 1985 and the company changed its name to CompUSA in 1991.

In 2000, Slim's Grupo Sanborns SA agreed to purchase the company for $797.7 million after holding a 14 percent stake since 1999. Slim invested at least $700 million more in recent years to shore up the retailer's finances.

Slim is honorary chairman of Telefonos de Mexico SAB, which runs 90 percent of Mexico's 20 million telephone land lines. In 2003, he tried and failed to buy Richmond, Virginia-based Circuit City for $1.5 billion.

Slim hired Credit Suisse Group last year to put CompUSA up for sale. Earlier this year, he said he would sell the chain ``if anyone will buy it.''

``We made a mistake with management,'' Slim said at a news conference in Mexico City in March.

Law firms Cooley Godward Kronish LLP and Kelley Drye & Warren LLP were hired to represent creditors and landlords, CompUSA said.

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