Turnaround private investment firm OpCapita has bought electricals retailer Comet from owner Kesa for £2.
Kesa will also inject £50m into Comet and retain its pension liabilties. The investment into Comet’s new owner, technically Hailey Holdings and Hailey Acquisitions, will enable Kesa to “participate in the equity proceeds of any subsequent sale or other exit of Comet”.
Retail Week revealed last month that Kesa was in discussions to keep an economic interest in Comet should it sell the embattled electricals chain to OpCapita.
Discussions about the sale of Comet have been going on since the summer, and offers from interested buyers were compared against Kesa’s own turnaround plans for loss-making Comet.
Kesa chairman David Newlands said the disposal of Comet was in the best interests of shareholders and “delivers a more certain outcome than contnuing with the turnaround plan”.
He said: “Whilst good progress has been made against the turnaround plan’s strategic objectives, in reaching its view the board took into account the ongoing negative impact of Comet on the financial position of the group, the significant challenge involved in achieving an acceptable level of profitability at Comet over the long term given the specific competitive nature of the UK market, and the substantial costs involved if the turnaround plan proved to be unsuccessful.”
The acquisition was financed with £30m of equity and a £40m asset-backed loan as well as Kesa’s contribution. OpCapita has pledged to run Comet as a going concern for at least 18 months.
Comet’s sales fell 17.9% in between the start of May to October 31, and slid 18.6% like-for-like. The retailer said there was an impact from logistics consolidation and the store relay programme.
The deal comes amid turbulent conditions in the electricals market. Big-ticket categories are under pressure because of squeezed consumer finances and competition is intense - on Monday Best Buy revealed it would shut its big-box stores while market leader Dixons is the only big electricals retailer to be profitable.