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.
Cameron's freebie to apartheid South Africa
Nelson Mandela: 11 inspirational quotes to live your life by
Nelson Mandela: From 'terrorist' to tea with the Queen
UK weather: People urged to remain vigilant as high tides and strong winds continue through the night
Nelson Mandela death: his life in pictures
- 1 Cameron's freebie to apartheid South Africa
- 2 Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
- 3 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 4 Australian ultra-nationalist politician Stephanie Banister in car crash immigration TV interview
- 5 People will try to reduce Mandela to a lilting reggae tune about ‘love’. They will fail
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£150 - £250 per day: Cornwallis Elt : iPhone Rollout- Blackberry Enginee...
£55000 - £70000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: A well-known and renowned in...
£450 - £500 per hour: Cornwallis Elt : Business Analyst Finance System Hy...
£400 - £550 per day: Cornwallis Elt : BUSINESS ANALYST- OPERATIONS- PRIVATE B...