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."

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
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

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Java Developer - Banking - London - Up to £560/day

£500 - £560 per day: Orgtel: Java Developer FX - Banking - London - Up to £560...

HR Business Analyst, Bristol, £350-400pd

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Account Manager - (Product & Account Management, Marketing)

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Account Manager - (Produc...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on