OpCapita risks further government heat through £27m Comet tax-loss buy


Comet electrical - AltAssets Private Equity NewsPrivate equity firm OpCapita is preparing to court further controversy following its £2 buyout of collapsed electrical retailer Comet after it emerged the firm is considering buying the chain’s tax losses.

The firm is planning to buy £27m of the losses through subsidiary Hailey Acquisitions according to the Mail on Sunday, which said OpCapital could then offset them against the vehicle’s own profits in a practice currently being clamped down upon by the UK government.

OpCapita is already being investigated by the UK Government after complaints from MPs over its handling of the business.

British taxpayers are believed to be facing a £49.4m bill for unpaid redundancies and tax after the company sank into administration last year, despite OpCapita holding vehicle Hailey Acquisitions walking away with £50m as a secured creditor.

That is down £95m on the amount Hailey is owed, but leaves it in a better position than £26.2m unsecured government creditor HM Revenue and Customs, which will received nothing.

OpCapita bought the beleaguered chain from Anglo-French electrical giant Kesa for a nominal fee of £2 in November 2011, with Kesa also providing a £50m investment into the firm’s Hailey 2 fund.

Comet span into administration after suffering a “cash crunch” in the run-up to Christmas 2012, which led to suppliers demanding stricter terms such as upfront payments from the store chain.

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