€102m takeover offers hope for Athlone jobs

There was some hope offered to the eight jobs lost in the GAME shop in the Athlone Towncentre this week with the news that UK corporate raider Opcapita has bought out its troubled parent company - the GAME Group - for a nominal £1, but estimated to cost the firm up to £85 million (€102m ) in real terms.

Workers at the firm’s Athlone branch are now in their second week of a protest sit-in over the lack of redundancy provision following snap announcement on March 26 that the GAME Group was to close all its Irish operations with the loss of 231 jobs in 14 stores in the Republic.

Staff say they have not been informed of any change in their status by administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers who are managing the proceedings, and it is not yet known how many of these jobs Opcapita will be able to keep, as further savage cuts are in the nature of such rationalising.

Last week PwC informed the Athlone staff to make applications for State redundancy, but gave them UK forms to do this.

It is now known the Game Group had a £21m rent bill due last week across the UK and Ireland, and faces a £12m wage bill this weekend, although PwC announced last week it would honour any wages owed up to the end of March. There is also £10m in VAT and £40m owed to suppliers.

The group has already signalled that losses for the year to the end of January are likely to be around £18m.

An estimated 3,100 jobs have been given a reprieve by the deal which will keep open 333 shops in the two countries. Last week, prior to the Opcapita deal, only 1,000 of these jobs had a future.

Opcapita is a UK-based private invstment partnership, specialising in the retail sector, and was set up in 2006 by a former managing director of Deutsche Bank AG, Henry Jackson.

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