Min­is­ters hand £252m PPE con­tract to small fam­ily firm

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Rachel Mil­lard

HEALTH of­fi­cials are fac­ing scru­tiny af­ter a £252.5m con­tract to sup­ply face masks was awarded to a small fam­ily in­vest­ment firm with no known his­tory in the in­dus­try.

The Depart­ment of Health handed the deal to Lon­don-based Ayanda Cap­i­tal – run by Tim Hor­lick, ex-hus­band of the star fund man­ager Ni­cola Hor­lick – which has five em­ploy­ees and, ac­cord­ing to its web­site, spe­cialises in cur­rency trad­ing, off­shore prop­erty, pri­vate equity and trade fi­nanc­ing.

It has sparked fur­ther ques­tions about the Gov­ern­ment’s PPE pro­cure­ment strat­egy fol­low­ing a £108m con­tract awarded to small pest con­trol firm PestFix. Ayanda is owned by the Hor­lick fam­ily through a Mau­ri­tius-reg­is­tered hold­ing com­pany called Milo In­vest­ments. Lat­est ac­counts, for the year end­ing De­cem­ber 2019, show it had as­sets worth £1.8m and £1.4m of cash in the bank. The Gov­ern­ment has handed bil­lions of pounds to dozens of com­pa­nies to se­cure PPE through­out the cri­sis, of­ten with­out com­pet­i­tive ten­der in a rush to get vi­tal equip­ment.

Prem Sikka, emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor at Es­sex Busi­ness School, said the Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice spend­ing watch­dog should be check­ing on how the money was used. He said: “There are more ques­tions than an­swers. There were UK com­pa­nies who said they were will­ing to sup­ply PPE but never got any con­tract, never heard from any min­is­ters. Why didn’t they do that? How on earth were many of these com­pa­nies se­lected?”

The Ayanda con­tract was awarded in April but de­tails have just been pub­lished. Ayanda said yes­ter­day it had ful­filled the con­tract and due process was fol­lowed through­out the pro­cure­ment. It added that Ayanda is a UK com­pany which pays its taxes in Bri­tain.

A spokesman said: “Ayanda Cap­i­tal has a large net­work of trad­ing coun­ter­par­ties glob­ally and was able to as­sist the Gov­ern­ment at short no­tice in meet­ing its crit­i­cal PPE re­quire­ments and is proud to have been able to do so.”

A Depart­ment of Health and So­cial Care spokesman said: “We have a ro­bust process which en­sures that or­ders are of high-qual­ity standard, meet com­mer­cial due dili­gence and checked for risk and fraud.”

Ayanda Cap­i­tal, run by Tim Hor­lick, was awarded the gov­ern­ment con­tract in April

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