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Kesa ends Comet saga selling retail chain for £2

Simon Quicke

Comet might be known for its bargains come the Christmas sales but it came up with an offer venture capital found difficult to refuse with its parent selling it for £2.

The buyer is a group of companies under a name Hailey, which has been advised by OpCapita, and does include a £50m investment from Kesa, which will retain liability for the staff final salary pension scheme and the responsibility for services and warranties also stays with the current owners..

Kesa will also benefit financially if the chain is sold on again for a sum above £70m and for the time being things will run as they have been with the emphasis on turning round the struggling retailer.

The sale comes in the same week that rival electrical retailer Best Buy Europe announced plans to shut down all of its 11 UK stores in another sign of the tough trading conditions being felt in the out-of-town shopping centres.
David Newlands, chairman of Kesa Electricals, said that it had been exploring strategic options to dispose of Comet since June and it wanted to find the best way of restoring profitability at the chain.

"Having concluded the review of its strategic alternatives, the Board believes that a disposal on the terms agreed with the Purchasers is in the best interests of Ordinary Shareholders and delivers a more certain outcome than continuing 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," he added.
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