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Opcapita snaps up embattled electrical retailer Comet for £2

9 Nov 2011

London-based private equity firm Opcapita has bought beleaguered electrical retailer Comet from Kesa, the Anglo-French electrical giant, for just £2.

According to Bloomberg, Kesa, Europe’s third largest electrical retailer, has agreed to sell the loss-making company and invest a further £50m into Hailey 2, the fund managed by the retail-focused buy-out firm Opcapita.

Shares in the embattled 248-store chain declined by 19 per cent in the second quarter of this year, while shares in Darty, Kesa’s more profitable electrical chain, fell by just 3.7 per cent. Kesa’s share price fell by 36 per cent overall this year, but rose by 1.28 per cent to 103.10 this morning.

The Anglo-French electrical giant has agreed to retain the liability for Comet’s pension programme, which was currently €45.9m in the red as of 30 April.

In a statement released today, David Newlands, chairman of Kesa Electricals, said that the deal was “… in the best interests of ordinary shareholders and delivers a more certain outcome than continuing with the turnaround plan.

“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,” he added.

Turnaround investor Hilco was also reported to be interested in Comet, and had picked serial British entrepreneur Peter Jones for an executive position at the company.

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