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By | Paul Kunert 9th November 2011 10:54

Kesa shells out £50m to offload Comet

Ailing UK retailer flogged to private equity biz

Kesa Electricals has coughed £50m to exit its loss-making UK retail arm Comet, with private equity firms Hailey Holdings and Hailey Acquisitions taking on the 248-strong chain.

Under the terms of the deal, which is subject to shareholder approval, the buyers – who were advised by private equity house OpCapita – will pay a nominal fee of £2 and receive the capital injection.

At the same time, Kesa will retain the liability for the Comet Defined Benefit Pension scheme – which had a deficit of €45.9m – at the end of April.

David Newlands, chairman of Kesa Electricals, said flogging the retailer "delivers a more certain outcome than continuing with the turnaround plan".

He said the "ongoing negative impact" of Comet on group finances, the "significant challenge" of making the firm profitable, particularly in the ultra competitive UK retail sector, and the "substantial costs" of the turnaround plan should it not work had shaped its decision to sell.

This brings to an end roughly five months of uncertainty for Comet and comes just days after Best Buy confirmed it is shuttering the 11 big box stores it set up in the Uk with Carphone Warehouse at a cost of £200m.

The group also revealed today that due to the planned service and logistics consolidation, and store relay programme in the UK, Comet like-for-like sales were down 18.6 per cent though efforts to improve gross margin yielded a 70 point rise.

According to Companies House, Hailey Acquisitions was formed on 2 November and has one shareholder, Bibi Rahima Ally. ®

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