UPDATE 1-Gordon Brothers buys CompUSA, will close stores

Fri Dec 7, 2007 7:29pm EST

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By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES Dec 7 (Reuters) - CompUSA, the computer and gadget retailer controlled by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, has been sold to a restructuring and investment firm that will close stores and sell some company assets.

The new owner is Boston-based Gordon Brothers Group, which recently helped CompUSA sell under-performing stores.

The terms of the deal were not not disclosed.

Dallas-based CompUSA said on Friday that active discussions are underway to sell its technical services business, CompUSA TechPro, its online sales operation, CompUSA.com, and select stores in key markets.

The chain's 103 retail stores will remain open and staffed during the holiday season, offering discounts on computer and electronics ahead of the planned store closures.

"An orderly and expedited wind-down and asset sale process is the best option for CompUSA and its creditors at this juncture," said Bill Weinstein, a Gordon Brothers principal who will be running CompUSA as its interim president.

"We worked long and hard with Gordon Brothers Group to achieve a business solution that maximizes CompUSA's assets," said Roman Ross, CompUSA's current chief executive, who will continue to serve the company in an advisory capacity.

Earlier this year, the company closed more than half of its U.S. retail stores in a bid to streamline operations and bolster margins at top-performing stores.

Friday's sale did not come as a complete surprise to industry watchers.

News reports have suggested that Slim -- who is among the world's wealthiest individuals -- was seeking to unload more of his interest in the company.

A spokesman for Circuit City Stores Inc CC.N told Reuters on Friday that representatives from CompUSA approached his company about possibly taking over properties.

Goldman Sachs analyst Matthew Fassler said prior to the announcement of the sale that the closure of more CompUSA stores would be a positive development for rivals Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N), Circuit City , Office Depot Inc ODP.N, OfficeMax Inc OMX.N and Staples Inc (SPLS.O).

Consolidation in the electronic retailing sector has resulted in intense competition as large companies such a Best Buy Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) undercut smaller rivals such as CompUSA and Circuit City. (Reporting by Lisa Baertlein, editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Andre Grenon)

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