Insolvency Service recovers £413m from Carillion; PPF dividend still unknown

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) is still unclear of the amount it will receive from the liquidation of Carillion, despite realisations totalling £413m at the end of 2018, the Insolvency Service (IS) has said.

In a letter to Joint Committee chairs Frank Field and Rachel Reeves, the IS official receiver, David Chapman, said that it is “too early” to tell how much will be paid to the PPF as it depends on the outcome of future recoveries, expected to be around £50m, as well as the level of creditor claims that are received from other entities.

Also delivering an update to the Committee, PPF CEO, Oliver Morley, said that there had been “no material change” on the funding position of Carillion’s 13 defined benefit schemes, which had a combined aggregate deficit of around £800m.

Morley added that the shortfall will only definitively be known once the assessment periods for each scheme has been completed, expected at the end of the year.

The PPF said that its “current working assumption” is that not all of the schemes will transfer to the lifeboat, but on the information it has received realisations will be “relatively small” compared to the amount owed by the schemes.

Furthermore, Field criticised the IS’ defence of the current system of corporate governance, specifically on the framework around directorial misconduct disqualification, after its CEO Sarah Albon also wrote to the Joint Committee.

Field said: “And so the gravy train grinds on. A year since Carillion’s collapse, four since BHS, and still nothing to stop greedy, ruthless or just complacent directors taking a one way bet with the livelihoods and pensions of their workers, with their small business suppliers and with the UK taxpayer.”

According to Chapman, PwC’s fees for acting as special managers for the calendar year is estimated in the region of £44.2m, with its total expected bill to reach £72m.

“In this they are ably assisted by a merry little band of advisers and auditors, conflicted at every turn and with every incentive to milk the cash cow dry – right down to re-appearing as butcher to flog off the collapsed remains for a hefty cut, as PwC did in this case,” Field added.

Despite this, Chapman said that PwC's fees are lower than the £148m first anticipated by the National Audit Office, while its recoveries have been “higher than had been anticipated”.

In December, Pensions Age reported that six of the UK’s largest contracting firms, some with leading government contracts, have a combined pensions deficit of £730.2m, according to their financial reports.

In January, new proposals in a consultation launched by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, would mean that public sector workers will have the option to remain in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) in the event their job is outsourced, a move which could safe-guard thousands from losing their pension pots in cases such as Carillion.

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