- - Monday, May 14, 2012

NEW YORK — Best Buy founder Richard Schulze is stepping down as chairman after an investigation found that he knew that the CEO was having a relationship with an employee and did not alert the audit committee.

Best Buy hired an outside law firm in March to investigate then-CEO Brian Dunn, who resigned in April. The committee found that Mr. Dunn had a “close personal relationship” with a female employee that showed poor judgment. But it found he did not misuse company resources or company aircraft related to the relationship.

Still, the inquiry showed that Mr. Schulze, who has been with the company since its inception in 1966, acted inappropriately when he found out about the relationship. He is resigning and will be replaced by Hatim Tyabji, chairman of its audit committee.

ENERGY

Mid-Atlantic transmission line for wind clears hurdle

A huge power transmission line for wind farms planned off the East Coast has cleared a regulatory hurdle, although construction is still years away.

The project, known as the Atlantic Wind Connection, would enable up to 7,000 megawatts of electricity to be produced at offshore wind farms from Virginia to New Jersey. Internet giant Google and other investors have pledged up to $5 billion for it.

The Interior Department said Monday that no competitor has proposed a similar project, allowing Atlantic Wind Connection to move forward knowing it is likely to secure a federal right-of-way. Construction of the 380-mile line could begin as soon as 2014.

No commercial wind power is produced offshore in the U.S., despite efforts by the Obama administration to promote that energy source.

ILLINOIS

Chicago mayor announces $200M O’Hare cargo center

CHICAGO — The city of Chicago has reached an agreement to begin construction of a $200 million cargo center at O’Hare International Airport.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the project will create 1,200 construction jobs and another 1,200 permanent jobs at the completed cargo center. The mayor told a news conference Monday that the project will provide $600 million in economic benefits.

The project will be funded by a $130 million investment by developer Aeroterm LLC and more than $62 million of airport funds.

The cargo center will be built on approximately 65 acres of undeveloped property that was purchased in the 1990s.

Mr. Emanuel says the cargo center will ensure Chicago remains a leading gateway for imports from China.

NEW YORK

Ally’s mortgage unit files for bankruptcy

NEW YORK — Troubled U.S. Treasury-owned lender Ally Financial said Monday its was placing its mortgage unit into bankruptcy protection as the government seeks to reduce loss risks from a major $17 billion crisis-era bailout.

Ally said the unit, Resolution Capital, burdened with toxic loans from the subprime crisis, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday, which allows the company to reorganize under protection from its creditors.

The Treasury, which took over the former General Motors finance arm to save the auto giant in the 2008-2009 economic crash, said it was necessary to pare away the home loan unit to improve Ally’s overall financial health.

“While it is unfortunate that a Chapter 11 filing became necessary for ResCap, we believe that this action puts taxpayers in a stronger position to continue recovering their investment in Ally Financial,” said assistant Treasury secretary Timothy Massad.

“We believe that by addressing the legacy mortgage liabilities at ResCap, the action taken today will put taxpayers in a stronger position to maximize the value of their remaining investment in Ally.”

Ally said it would take a $1.3 billion charge in the second quarter related to the bankruptcy, which removes ResCap from Ally’s financial statements and puts its equity interest in ResCap at zero.

Ally, the former automobile GMAC financing arm of General Motors, separated from GM and changed its name to Ally Financial amid the government bailout of the country’s largest automaker in 2009.

The Treasury currently owns 74 percent of Ally’s capital.

From wire dispatches and staff reports