The U.K. Pensions Regulator is taking action against a number of firms and individuals in relation to funding pension plans sponsored by retailer BHS.
The regulator is working to seek redress on behalf of 20,000 participants, following BHS' insolvency earlier this year. The company sponsors two London-based pension funds: the £421 million ($513 million) BHS Pension Scheme and the £95.1 million BHS Senior Management Pension Scheme. The pension funds had a combined £571 million deficit as of Jan. 23, the most recent available data.
TPR said in a statement on its website that it had sent warning notices to Sir Philip Green, the previous owner of the company; Taveta Investments Ltd.; and Taveta Investments (No. 2) Ltd. Tavesta is the parent company of Mr. Green's Arcadia Group. The TPR has sent separate warning notices to Retail Acquisitions Ltd. and the firm's director, Dominic Chappell, which purchased BHS in March 2015 for £1.
The notices — each of which runs more than 300 pages — state TPR's case for each respondent being liable to support the pension funds. The notices also include a contribution notice, demanding a specified sum of money; and a financial support direction, requiring parties to put ongoing support in place for the pension funds, which much first be agreed with the regulator. A spokesman for TPR could not disclose the value demanded.
The pension funds are currently undergoing assessment for entry into the Pension Protection Fund, U.K.'s London-based lifeboat for the pension funds of insolvent companies. They entered assessment in March, following BHS' insolvency.
“Our decision to launch enforcement action is an important milestone in our work to attain redress for the thousands of members of BHS schemes who have been placed in this position through no fault of their own,” said TPR CEO Lesley Titcomb.
Respondents have a specified period of time to appeal the notices. The time frame was not disclosed.