Johnston Press pension scheme expected to enter PPF

Trustees of the Johnston Press Pension Plan believe the scheme is likely to fall into the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), after Johnston Press said it is set to be placed into administration.

In a statement on the London Stock Exchange today, 19 November, the group announced the end of its formal sale process, as offers failed to deliver “sufficient value”, and said it will now enter PPF assessment period.

In July, the publisher considered a regulated apportionment arrangement (RAA) for its pension scheme as one of a number of “potential strategic options” or restructuring or refinancing of a £220m bond. The scheme reported a £47.2m deficit on 31 December 2017.

In a statement, trustees said: “Subject to these court approvals, the plan will enter into a PPF assessment period, and the trustees' belief is that the Plan will ultimately transfer into the PPF.

“The trustees recognise that this is an unsettling time for members. Our priority now is to work with the administrator and the PPF to provide all possible assistance to members.”

The group added that it is sending out communication to members, and will send “detailed information” to individual members as soon as it can.

“Members should be assured that for those already drawing their pension, payments will continue to be made as usual,” it added.

Members of the scheme who retired early, or those that have still yet to retire, should receive compensation based on the PPF’s 90 per cent level, subject to a cap.

The group said, subject to administration orders, that the firm’s business and assets will be sold to a newly-incorporated group on companies, controlled by the holders of the bonds.

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