Mexican now has 13% of Circuit City

RICHMOND, Va. — A Mexican billionaire who controls a chain of electronics stores in Latin America now holds a 13 percent stake in Circuit City Stores Inc., which is under bankruptcy protection.

Ricardo Salinas Pliego, who is on Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people, owned more than 22 million shares of the nation's second-largest consumer electronics retailer as of Nov. 12, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Friday.

He bought 5.3 million shares of Circuit City at an average price of 22 cents apiece, two days after the Virginia-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, according to the documents.

The transaction raised Salinas' stake to 22.1 million shares, making him the company's largest shareholder based on outstanding share figures listed on Circuit City court documents.

It wasn't immediately known when the other 16.8 million shares were purchased, because no previous filings for beneficial ownership exist. Salinas has not yet filed the SEC form required of those who hold more than a 5 percent stake in a company.

Circuit City spokesman Bill Cimino had no comment on the transaction. A spokesman for Salinas did not immediately comment because Monday was a holiday in Mexico.

Facing pressure from its vendors and from consumers who aren't spending, Circuit City has announced plans to close stores, including one on Nicholasville Road in Lexington, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company, which has posted losses for seven of the last eight quarters, plans to keep operating while it develops a reorganization plan.