LONDON, March 21 British retail tycoon Philip
Green's deal with the regulator to plug a hole in the pension
schemes of collapsed department store BHS will see a small
number of the highest-paid former managers benefit the most, a
parliamentary committee said on Tuesday.
A report by the lower House of Commons' Work and Pensions
Committee also found billionaire Green could receive a 15
million pound ($18.6 million) refund from the 363 million pounds
payment he made to the BHS pension schemes last month.
Green owned BHS for 15 years before he sold the loss-making
180-store chain to Dominic Chappell, a serial bankrupt with no
retail experience, for one pound in 2015. BHS went into
administration in April 2016. Some 11,000 jobs were lost.
In a July report, lawmakers accused Green of greed and
disregard for corporate governance that led to the collapse of
BHS. Green said the report was biased and unfair.
Green's deal with the pensions regulator gave the 19,000
members of the BHS pension schemes the option of the same
starting pension they were originally promised by BHS, and
higher benefits than they would get from the lifeboat scheme,
the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).
Alternatively, scheme members could opt for a lump sum
payment if eligible or remain in their current scheme and
receive benefits from the PPF. The lump sum option is available
to members with small pots of up to 18,000 pounds in value.
On Tuesday, lawmakers said their analysis showed those who
did best were the 16 people with the best pensions, while some
pensioners would receive less than 80 percent of what they would
have received under BHS scheme rules.
They also found that, if there was a 90 percent take-up of
the lump sum payment option, Green gets a 15 million pound
“I hope Sir Philip will recycle any refund back into the
scheme as BHS pensioners will still be facing cuts in the
benefits for which they paid," said Frank Field, chair of the
committee and long time critic of Green.
“It is also clear that Sir Philip prioritised his loyal
senior managers, who have had the PPF cap on high pension
benefits completely removed," he said.
A spokesman for Green declined to comment on the report.
($1 = 0.8078 pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Edmund Blair)