TPR could pursue Greens' overseas assets

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) could pursue Arcadia owner Philip and Lady Green’s overseas assets if they fail to provide the pension contributions promised in the agreed company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

When speaking to the Work and Pensions Select Committee, TPR chief executive Charles Counsell was asked whether TPR has the powers to acquire assets from Lady Green, even though she is living abroad and not a British taxpayer.

Counsell responded: “Yes, we are able to go across jurisdictions to secure money where we need to. Indeed, we have done that before. There was a historical case where we pursued money in Russia and secured money back into the scheme.”

The committee chair, Frank Field, expressed his relief that “finally we see the famous Green chequebook produced” to provide some peace of mind on “at least some of the current promise to Arcadia’s pension scheme”.

However, he warned that there are still concerns that need to be addressed to ensure that Arcadia scheme members will be safeguarded if the retail group fails.

Field added: “That still leaves a worrying amount tied to Arcadia’s fortunes. Might not TPR now tell us exactly where the remaining two thirds is coming from, given that Arcadia has, to put it mildly, a doubtful value?

“It is for Sir Philip Green to prove he can make a success of Arcadia, but to prove his commitment to Arcadia’s staff and pensioners, he could promise now also to stump up the rest from his family coffers. Will TPR now seek real security for the pension scheme?”

In June, Arcadia had seven CVA agreements approved by creditors, saving its pension scheme from entering the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

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.

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