Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/15870
Comet owners walk away with £ millions
Over Christmas and New Year 2008/2009, Woolworths, the long-established high street retail chain, folded - a victim of the capitalist economic recession. Some 27,000 shop workers lost their jobs as a result.
Now, four years on, another retailer - Comet - has hit the rocks. Once again, like Woolies, hundreds of stores have shut and thousands of Comet workers face Christmas on the dole.
But some it seems will still be enjoying seasonal cheer; namely, the owners of Comet's parent company, the private equity firm OpCapita.
This vulture company has walked away from Comet's collapse, quids in, after leaving the public to foot the statutory redundancy payments and a hefty £26.1 million unpaid tax bill.
Outrageously, OpCapita, having paid a nominal £2 less than 12 months ago to acquire Comet, will pocket £49.7 million because under the terms of Comet's administration these assets belong to OpCapita!
Meanwhile, customers who hold unused Comet gift cards and vouchers who didn't purchase them by credit card, will go to the back of the queue for a refund as uninsured creditors.
The Con-Dem government, despite taking tough about pressuring tax avoiding corporations to pay up, is likely to sit on its hands and not pursue OpCapita or indeed legislate for tougher tax compliance laws to prevent a repetition of this debacle.
Instead of ineffective government tinkering, the obvious worker-friendly solution is to nationalise the profits and assets of these vulture companies and use these resources to fund long-term employment.