Hilco and OpCapita battle it out to take Comet off Kesa's hands
Wednesday 10 August 2011
The retail restructuring specialist Hilco and the private equity firm OpCapita are through to the second round of bids for Comet, the ailing UK chain that parent Kesa Electricals is trying to sell.
Contrary to reports over the weekend, Hilco is still in the running toacquire Comet, which has 249 shops and made a loss of £8.9m in the year to 30 April. Beyond OpCapita and Hilco, it is unclear whether any other bidders have been taken through to the second round of bids, which are due before the end of August. It is understood that GA Europe, the retail restructuring firm, and Weight Partners, the investment company, are out of the running.
Ideally, Kesa wants to get a sale-and-purchase agreement in place for Comet – and for the acquirer to complete their due diligence – before its annual meeting on 15 September. But sources close to the company denied a firm timetable.
Kesa – which also owns the Darty chain on the Continent – would then put the sale of Comet to shareholders later in September and sew up the deal before the middle of October. Knight Vinke, the activist shareholder, which has a 19.3 per cent stake in Kesa, is keen for the group to offload Comet.
Kesa is considering only going-concern bids for Comet and has ruled out proposals that wanted to put the UK chain through an insolvency procedure, such as administration. However, the potential sale of Comet is complicated, partly as City analysts forecast it will make another loss this year. A key barrier is that Comet has a pension deficit of £40.7m and it is unclear whether a potential buyer would have to take on all, or part, of this liability.
There has been speculation that Kesa is prepared to pay the acquirer a dowry of up to £100m to cover the pension deficit and trading losses. But sources said that the process had not yet reached the stage where any possible dowry was being discussed.
Hilco has been involved with many of this country's most high-profile distressed retail situations over the past decade. In June, it sold parts of Habitat UK to Home Retail Group, the owner of Argos and Homebase, for £24.5m. But the rest of Habitat's UK business was put into administration.
The restructuring firm Gordon Brothers is working with OpCapita on an evaluation of Comet's inventory in order to help the private equity firm put in place a working-capital facility. Comet posted sales of £1.54bn last year and has about a 10 per cent share of the UK electricals market. All parties mentioned declined to comment.
- 1 Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
- 2 Edward Heath 'child sex abuse' allegation: Investigation to be held into Wiltshire police handling of alleged claim in the 1990s
- 3 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 4 A-level results 2015: UK exam board OCR admits it 'estimates' hundreds of pupils' grades after papers 'go missing'
- 5 Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks busy Dublin road
Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
'Gene drive': Scientists sound alarm over supercharged GM organisms which could spread in the wild and cause environmental disasters
Labour leadership race: Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister, says Ken Clarke
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Tom Cruise: Reporters banned from asking actor about Scientology
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...
Up to 70k DOE: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Financial Director ...
£11000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This financial company offer ma...