Zahawi Resigns as MP, Immediately Takes on New Role at Very Group

Former chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has been named as the new non-executive chairman of Very Group, one of Britain’s largest online retailers. This announcement comes just days after Mr Zahawi confirmed that he will be stepping down from his position as a Member of Parliament at the next general election.

Very Group is owned by the Barclay family, who also own The Daily Telegraph. However, due to a government order and the uncertainty surrounding the future ownership of the newspaper, the Barclays are unable to exert influence over it. This has led to a period of turbulence for the family, making Mr Zahawi’s appointment a significant move for the company.

Sources have revealed that Mr Zahawi’s appointment will be announced on Monday, with him replacing interim chair Aidan Barclay. This news was first reported by Sky News in March.

With Mr Zahawi joining Very Group, the company is expected to seek fresh equity investment in the near future and conduct a review of its capital structure. Despite being weighed down by debt, the company has over 4.5 million customers and ambitious expansion plans. It is headquartered in Liverpool and sells a range of products including electrical goods, homewares, and fashion, with the support of a large consumer finance arm.

In recent months, Very Group secured £125m of new debt funding from Carlyle Global Credit and IMI, in order to support their future growth.

Mr Zahawi, who has been the MP for Stratford-on-Avon since 2010, has had a successful political career. He served as the chancellor of the exchequer for a brief period and held ministerial posts at the Department of Health and Social Care, where he oversaw the successful vaccine rollout during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department for Business, and as the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. However, he was dismissed from his role as Conservative Party chairman due to a tax dispute related to the sale of shares in his polling firm YouGov.

Last week, Mr Zahawi announced that he will not stand again at the next election, joining other notable politicians such as former prime minister Theresa May and former Conservative Party chairman Sir Brandon Lewis in deciding to leave parliament.

Prior to his career in politics, Mr Zahawi was the founder of YouGov and is now a patron of the Adam Smith Institute, an economic thinktank.

He has also been playing a role as an intermediary between the Barclay family and Abu Dhabi-based investor IMI Investments, who expressed interest in bidding for The Daily Telegraph last summer. Mr Zahawi was expected to become chairman of the newspaper group if the bid was successful, but the government intervened and amended legislation to prohibit ownership of British newspaper titles by investors connected to a foreign state.

The Barclays have already lost control of several of their corporate assets, including their parcel delivery business Yodel Group and delivery firm ArrowXL, which was forced into administration by its principal lender HSBC. It is reported that half of the £1.2bn loan taken from RedBird IMI and IMI by the Barclays was secured against their media assets, with the remainder secured against other assets including Very Group.

The Telegraph proprietors have previously explored a sale of Very Group, valuing it at over £3bn. Both Very Group and Mr Zahawi declined to comment on his appointment.

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