COMMONS

Fresh questions over BHS - RAL deal

07 June 2016

The Work and Pensions and Business, Innovation and Skills Committees hear from top BHS and Retail Acquisitions Ltd (RAL) executives as well as potential financiers of RAL of BHS as part of their joint inquiry into BHS.

RAL's acquisition of BHS

The Work and Pensions Committee hears from potential financiers of Retail Acquisition Limited (RAL) of BHS, although none of this finance was ultimately forthcoming:

Witnesses

Tuesday 7 June 2016, Thatcher Room, Portcullis House

At approximately 3.30pm

  • Robin Saunders, Managing Partner of Clearbrook Capital

At approximately 4.30pm

  • Nicolas Giauque, Managing Member: London, Farallon Capital Europe LLP
  • Joseph Dryer, Head of Capital Markets and Advisory, RiverRock

BHS and Retail Acquisitions Ltd top executives give evidence

The Work and Pensions and Business, Innovation and Skills Committees take evidence from three panels of witnesses.

Witnesses

Wednesday 8 June 2016, Grimond Room, Portcullis House

At 9.00am

  • Darren Topp, Chief Executive, BHS
  • Richard Price, Former Managing Director, BHS
  • Michael Hitchcock, Former Finance Consultant, BHS
  • Aiden Treacy, former Director, Retail Acquisitions Ltd
  • Mark Tasker, former Director, Retail Acquisitions Ltd
  • Eddie Parladorio, former Director, Retail Acquisitions Ltd
  • Stephen Bourne, former Director, Retail Acquisitions Ltd
  • Dominic Chappell

Fresh questions arise for Lord Grabiner after meeting minutes publication

Lord Grabiner, Chairman of Taveta Investments Ltd, Taveta Investments (No. 2) Ltd and, until recently, Arcadia Group Ltd, has in oral evidence described his only role in the sale of BHS to Retail Acquisitions Limited (RAL) as retrospectively ratifying the deal at a meeting on 16 March 2014, the "first time I came into the story".

The Work and Pensions and Business, Innovation and Skills Committees are publishing the minutes of that meeting, with a series of fresh questions to Lord Grabiner about his actions and his stewardship of the companies.

Work and Pensions Chair's comment

Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee said:

"We already knew that the Chairman of Taveta learned about, and agreed, the sale of BHS to Dominic Chappell at a board meeting five days after the keys were handed over. Now we know that his first act at that meeting was to relinquish the Chair to the only other Director in the room. I’m baffled and have asked him to explain."

BHS business plan and Sale Purchase Agreement (SPA) published

The Committees are also publishing a series of further documents from Arcadia which shed further light on the thinking on both sides of the deal. These include the business plan for BHS (PDF PDF 23.31 MB) going forward from the sale, annotated by BHS Finance Director Paul Budge, and the Sale Purchase Agreement (SPA) (PDF PDF 1.16 MB).

The documents beg questions for both sides including:

  • RAL largely adopted BHS management’s existing business plan of "outrageous ambition". Could Dominic Chappell really be expected to succeed where Sir Philip Green had failed?
  • Were the complex agreements in the SPA honoured? Did agreed monies remain in the business for its day-to-day running? Did all the property transactions proceed as planned?
  • Taveta agreed to pay £15 million to the pension fund over three years, to be matched by RAL. Was this ever going to be enough to address the ballooning deficit?

These are the issues the Committees are interrogating, as well as looking into the different arrangements put forward as attempts to finance the deal.

Further information

Image: PA

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