International firm Olswang will be in the spotlight next week over its role in the sale of retail giant BHS.
Last-ditch efforts to save BHS failed yesterday.
Frank Field MP (pictured), chair of the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee, has asked Olswang to disclose details of the fees it was paid for its work on the sale of BHS by next Monday.
Olswang advised Retail Acquisitions Limited on its purchase of BHS from Sir Philip Green for £1. The firm has already faced questions about its role in the sale and whether it performed proper due diligence on the buyer.
Following last week’s evidence session, Field has written to Stephen Hermer, general counsel at Olswang, asking for details about the total fees the firm charged for its services.
The Labour MP has also asked how much Olswang charged for its services relating to the purchase of BHS, and how much of these fees were contingent on the successful completion of the sale.
Field’s letter queried what due diligence process Olswang uses to establish the ‘ultimate source’ of any fees it is paid.
Last week, while giving evidence to the committee, Arcadia Group finance director Paul Budge said Retail Acquisitions put £35m into escrow. Field asked what steps Olswang had taken to find out how Retail Acquisitions raised this money.
Financial adviser Grant Thornton has also been asked to provide details of the fees it was paid for its role in the sale.
Last week, the Work and Pensions Committee and Business, Innovation and Skills Committee heard evidence from Hemer and Owen Clay, a corporate partner at Linklaters. In one of the hearings Field claimed that Linklaters and Olswang had failed to carry out proper due diligence on the buyer of the retail giant.
Retail Acquisitions is 90% owned by Dominic Chappell, who had previously twice been declared bankrupt. Hermer said Olswang had discovered details of one of Chappell’s bankruptcies during its due diligence work.
Field said the hearings had so far prompted ‘more questions than answers’.