Green Performed U-Turn Over Sale of BHS, Goldman Banker Says

  • Billionaire questioned credibility of buyer Chappell: Gutman
  • BHS now set to be liquidated with loss of about 11,000 jobs

Philip Green questioned the credibility of Dominic Chappell as a potential buyer of BHS Ltd. shortly before selling the now-failed U.K. retailer to a group led by the former race-car driver, according to a Goldman Sachs banker who was advising the billionaire at the time.

Two months prior to divesting the chain for a pound in 2015, Green had said Chappell wasn’t a “creditable” purchaser and that he planned to seek alternatives, Anthony Gutman, co-head of European investment banking at Goldman Sachs, said in a response to lawmakers investigating the retailer’s pension liabilities.

Chappell failed to stem the decline of BHS, which is now set to close with the loss of as many as 11,000 jobs. A parliamentary hearing is seeking to establish how the chain’s pension liabilities swelled to 571 million pounds ($830 million). Green pocketed 420 million pounds in dividends before selling BHS last year to Chappell, who had no retail industry experience.

Gutman’s comments were revealed in his response to a parliamentary committee’s request for details of Goldman Sachs’s communications with Green’s Arcadia Group in the run-up to the sale of BHS last year. The banker first gave evidence to the committee on May 23.

Green, Chappell and Goldman Sachs didn’t immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

“What we are learning now throws some of the accounts we have heard so far further into question, and opens a series of new lines of inquiry that we are pursuing in advance of testimony from the lead actors in this affair over the next two weeks,” Frank Field, chairman of the committee, said in a statement Friday. Green is scheduled to appear at a parliamentary hearing June 15, a week after Chappell.

Goldman Sachs acted in an informal advisory capacity to Arcadia during the BHS sale process.

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