Former owner of Comet collects £54m

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The Independent Online

Nick Goodway

The former private-equity owner of Comet, the liquidated electricals chain, has walked away with at least £54m while the taxman and suppliers are still waiting for their money.

OpCapita, run by Henry Jackson, bought Comet from Kesa for a token £2 in February 2012 but it went into administration nine months later with the loss of 7,000 jobs.

Now it has been revealed that Hailey Acquisitions Limited, the vehicle used by OpCapita and its backers for the deal, has been paid £54m by the administrators Deloitte following the sale of stock and equipment at Comet.

Hailey could be in line for further payouts because it is the main secured creditor to Comet having taken on its debt from Kesa.

The administrators have a further £29m of cash to distribute, much of which could go to Hailey.

By contrast unsecured creditors to Comet, who are owed £232m, have been warned to expect payouts of less than 1p in the pound.

Hailey also controls Comet's profitable warranties business Triptych and is reportedly in talks to buy up £27m worth of Comet losses, which it could use to offset against other profitable activities.

The Business, Innovation and Skills Department, under Vince Cable, is investigating the collapse of Comet, where the Government ended up with a £50m bill for unpaid taxes and redundancy payments.