The millionaire, his pop star wife and the fall of a high-street giant

Henry Jackson's OpCapita bought Comet for £2 – and could walk away with millions

After releasing an album and three singles, one featuring the rapper Snoop Dogg, the Canadian-born pop singer Stacey Jackson appeared to be enjoying another carefree day yesterday.

Having spent the weekend in Los Angeles for a series of what she called "super-productive" meetings, the glamorous wife of American financier Henry Jackson told her Twitter followers: "I've suddenly developed an addiction to pop chips! They are so yummy and totally guilt-free!"

Whether or not her husband has such a clear conscience is open to question, for Mr Jackson is the chief executive of OpCapita, a US investment company that acquired the British high-street electricals chain Comet this year, and led it into administration last week.

While the Jackson family enjoys a well-heeled lifestyle in Chelsea, west London, more than 6,600 Comet staff face redundancy after administrators were called in on Friday – nine months after OpCapita acquired the 236-store chain for a token £2.

As secured creditors, Mr Jackson's OpCapita and its backers could well receive the lion's share of a possible £50m liquidation sale of Comet, which was losing £35m at the time of the acquisition.

John Gorle, of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, said: "This will really stick in the craw of Comet's 6,600 staff and it should also anger taxpayers, who could end up footing the bill for any unpaid wages and redundancy pay."

Public anger at the way the administration has been handled so far has centred on the refusal to honour gift cards bought before Comet's collapse. At the weekend, Maria Horton, of Plymouth, was prevented from using a £500 voucher from the Family Fund charity to buy an iPad for her four-year-old son, Samuel, who has cerebral palsy.

Perhaps sensing the growing backlash, the administrator Deloitte last night said it would accept gift cards and fulfil purchases made before the administration where stock was available. Neville Kahn, the joint administrator, who led the administration of Woolworths, also raised hopes for a sale of parts of the business. He said: "We are progressing discussions with a number of interested parties."

However, The Independent understands that Deloitte is considering a stock fire-sale this week, and branches could close before Christmas.

Under its previous guise as Merchant Equity Partners, OpCapita acquired the flat-pack furniture retailer MFI for a nominal £1 in 2006. While MFI collapsed into administration in November 2008 and then disappeared, OpCapita has since reported that it made a "small profit" from the chain.

The Labour MP Alan Johnson said: "Comet's employees seem to be the unfortunate victims of a short-term investment strategy which is not untypical of this kind of private equity company." Comet said in May that its call centre in Hull, where Mr Johnson is an MP, was to close and moved to Bristol resulting in 240 jobs losses.

There are likely to be no such financial worries for OpCapita and other investors in Comet, such as London-based Greybull Capital, as they have placed the £50m dowry, £30m working capital and £40m of asset-backed loans into an investment vehicle to protect their money.

Ian Fletcher, of the British Property Federation, said: "It is Comet's staff and unsecured creditors, such as landlords, who may lose out while OpCapita seemingly takes its money back.

"This injustice further underlines the need for a wide-ranging review of the insolvency regime."

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam