Arcadia creditors give CVA proposals the green light

Arcadia had all seven of its company voluntary arrangements (CVA) approved by its creditors yesterday (12 June), saving its pension scheme from entering the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

The creditors, including pension trustees, suppliers and landlords, had opposed plans initially voted on last week, before amendments agreed with The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and PPF were added to the proposal.

The final agreement consists of a £50m equity investment from the company’s majority shareholder, Lady Green, in addition to £50m of funding provided in March.

She has also agreed to fund the cost of the rent cut amendments, expected to total around £9.5m.

The firm reached an agreement with the trustees, TPR and the PPF to reduce its deficit repair contributions from £50m to £25m, for three years, alongside security over certain assets totalling £210m.

Lady Green will provide an additional £100m, consisting of £25m per year for three years and a one-off £25m contribution, to cover the shortfall.

Arcadia CEO, Ian Grabiner, said that there was now “the right structure in place to reduce out cost base and create a stable financial platform for the group”.

He continued: “We can execute our business turnaround plan to drive growth through our digital and wholesale channels, while ensuring our store portfolio remains at the heart of our customer offer.

“I am confident about the future of Arcadia and our ability to provide our customers with the very best multi-channel experience, deliver the fashion trends that they demand, and ultimately inspire a renewed loyalty to our brands that will support the long-term growth of our business.”

The Pension SuperFund CEO, Luke Webster, praised the regulator for acting with “great speed and creativity in negotiating a large, complex deal”.

However, Work and Pensions Select Committee chair, Frank Field, sought assurances from the company and TPR over the agreement.

He said that the committee will “try to ensure that TPR gets an effective programme in place top ensure Arcadia staff receive in full the pensions that Philip Green and Lady Green have promised them”.

The committee has asked TPR for information about the ownership of the cash and assets put up by the Greens as part of the deal, and other potential claims on them. It copied in Lady Green and the chair of Arcadia’s pension trustees “in the hope that they will volunteer this information if TPR feels it is constrained by legislation from doing so.”

It is also asking where the £210m security package is coming from and if there could be other claims by creditors on the assets.

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