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Investor Tim Horlick's trading firm wins £252m PPE contract

Rachel Millard
·2-min read
Workers producing face masks in China - STR /AFP
Workers producing face masks in China - STR /AFP

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 for 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, 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 coronavirus crisis, often without competitive tender in a rush to get vital equipment for the battle against Covid-19. 

Prem Sikka, emeritus professor at Essex Business School, said the National Audit Office spending watchdog should be checking on how the money is 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 today it had fulfilled the contract and that 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:  “Coronavirus has placed unprecedented global demands on PPE supply chains.

“We have a robust process which ensures that orders are of high quality standard, meet commercial due diligence and checked for risk and fraud.”

Almost 28bn items of PPE have been ordered from UK-based manufacturers and international partners, he said.