TPR ‘working closely’ with Interserve trustees following rescue plan talks

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has said it is “working closely” with Interserve and its pension scheme trustees, following news that it was seeking a rescue plan.

The group’s share price tanked to as low as 6 pence this morning, 10 December, and the firm has reported having over £500m worth of debts.

Despite this, the company reported a £32.1m surplus for its 8,500 member defined benefit scheme in its 2018 H1 results, a £67.8m swing from the year end 2017, following a change in indexation on future pension increases from RPI to CPI.

Responding to comment, TPR said: “We are working closely with both the trustee and sponsoring employers to ensure the best outcome for pension scheme members.”

The Pension Protection Fund has said it will not be commenting at this stage.

An Interserve spokesperson said: "We are fully engaged with both the pension trustee and the regulator. This follows their original engagement when we announced our refinancing in April 2018."

Unite the Union, which has 1,200 members working across Interserve, has warned that the outsourcing giant could be “Carillion Mark Two” and has called into question the government’s “unhealthy obsession” with the outsourcing of public services.

Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: “The financial difficulties that Interserve finds itself in is another dire warning of the dangers of outsourcing public services for private profit. We could be facing Carillion Mark Two.

“The mistakes made before the collapse of Carillon in January 2018 appear in danger of being repeated - if so, this could see the hard pressed taxpayer picking up the tab - yet again.

“We want to know from ministers what contingency plans are in place should Interserve be unable to restructure its debt-laden finances.”

Interserve CEO, Debbie White, said they expect to announce their deleveraging plan in early 2019.

“Our lenders are supportive of the deleveraging plan which will underpin the long term future of Interserve. Our refinancing in April of this year contemplated the development of a deleveraging plan in consultation with our stakeholders and the liquidity injected at that point also gave us the funding to execute our business plan.”

According to the group, it has gross revenues of £3.7bn and employs 75,000 people globally.

Pensions Age has approached Interserve for comment on its pension scheme.

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