MPs are about to grill a top Goldman Sachs banker over the BHS collapse

One of Goldman Sachs top European bankers will appear before MPs on Monday afternoon to answer questions on his role in the £1 sale of collapsed retailer BHS last year.

Anthony Gutman, cohead of EMEA Investment Banking Services at Goldman, is one of the witnesses appearing before the 3.50 p.m. BST hearing of the BHS inquiry in Parliament.

MPs from the Work and Pensions Select Committee and the Business Select Committee are investigating the circumstances leading up to the collapse of the retailer last month.

BHS was sold by retail billionaire Sir Philip Green last year for £1 to a vehicle headed by Dominic Chappell, a three-times bankrupt former racing driver with no former retail experience. MPs are questioning what checks were undertaken to see if Chappell could adequately support the chain. (They are also probing whether Green abandoned commitments to the BHS pension scheme, which collapsed with a £275 million deficit. The last session of the inquiry focused on this.)

Goldman Sachs have already said they had no formal role in the sale. The bank said in an emailed statement to BI last month: “Goldman Sachs had no formal role on the sale of BHS to Retail Acquisitions and was not engaged or remunerated in relation to it.”

But Gutman is said to have met with Chappell on behalf of Sir Philip before Retail Acquisitions bought BHS, according to the Telegraph. What advice he gave to Sir Philip after that meeting could be crucial to MPs assessment of the deal.

While Gutman is not thought to have been paid for that service, it raises questions about why Goldman’s top banker was doing unpaid work for a billionaire. The Financial Times has a theory that it was to drum up goodwill in hope of more business in the future.

Gutman is just one of a number of witnesses who will give evidence on last year’s £1 BHS sale this afternoon. Others include:

  • Lawyers from top firms Linklaters, Nabarro, and Eversheds;
  • Accountants and auditors from PwC, KMPG, and Deloitte;
  • Ian Grabiner, CEO of Sir Philip Green’s retail company Arcadia, which owns Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and more;
  • Lord Grabiner, Board member of Traveta Investments, the offshore vehicle that owns Arcadia and is owned by Sir Philip’s wife, Tina Green;
  • Arcadia Group CFO Paul Budge;
  • Arcadia Group property director Chris Harris.

Notable absentees from the list are Dominic Chappell and Sir Philip Green. Both are expected to give evidence to future sessions of the inquiry.

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