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Billionaire THG founder Matthew Moulding handed £151m loan by North West council

The billionaire founder of Manchester-headquartered e-commerce giant THG received a loan of more than £150m from a North West council to buy up a number of the firm’s properties ahead of its float on the London Stock Exchange.

Warrington Council advanced £151m of a £202m facility to an investment company called Icon 3 Holdco, which is indirectly controlled by Matthew Moulding, according to a report prepared for the authority’s audit and corporate governance committee in July.

The document also revealed that the figure is more than five times the size of any of the council’s other commercial loans.

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It is also larger than the £70m Trafford Borough Council lent directly to THG at the start of last year which was used to help finance the construction of the group’s headquarters.

The loan provided by Warrington Council was approved by the authority’s cabinet sitting in private session in October 2020.

According to a report in the Financial Times, the Warrington loan helped to refinance a number of property deals completed by businesses controlled by Mr Moulding around the time THG launched its £5bn IPO in September 2020.

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The report added that it is secured against assets including various commercial properties, some still under construction, around Manchester airport.

The Warrington Council report reads: “For accounting purposes the council records a number of transactions as long term debtors.

“These transactions mainly reflect loans treated as capital expenditure which are made for a service/function related purpose, as distinct from representing an investment made in reliance upon S.12, LGA2003.

“Accordingly, they do not represent part of the council’s investments, and are not subject to the investment guidance.”

However, it added that the details had been provided “in order to provide a comprehensive view on how cash balances have been used, or borrowing incurred”.

Mr Moulding was ranked at number 78 in the Sunday Times’ latest rich list with an net worth of £2.1bn.

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THG recently announced the acquisition of online retailer Cult Beauty for £275m and completed the $255m takeover of Bentley Laboratories, a US upmarket beauty products developer and manufacturer.

In May THG secured a $2bn boost which valued its new business-to-business tech arm at $6.3bn.

Warrington Council and THG have been contacted for comment.

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