Pensions watchdog could go after Philip Green’s overseas assets

The Pensions Regulator could target Sir Philip Green’s overseas assets to secure promised contributions to Arcadia’s pension scheme.

Guarantees given by Green and his wife include a £100m “cash” payment from Lady Tina Green, £75m over three years from Arcadia Group Ltd and a further £210m in security from Arcadia.

The pledges were made as part of a series of company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) which are subject to final approval on Wednesday, the Commons work and pensions select committee said.

The committee’s chairman, Frank Field, has suggested Green should “stump up” the necessary amount “from his family coffers”.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) chief executive, Charles Counsell, wrote to Field this month saying: “Providing that the CVA is successful, TPR will have direct rights under the arrangements with Lady Green to enforce her obligation to pay the promised sums to the Arcadia schemes. More generally, TPR’s powers are not restricted by jurisdiction, and we have pursued parties located overseas in the past.”

The Arcadia pension scheme, with nearly 10,000 members, is running an estimated deficit of between £537m and £727m, the committee said. Arcadia owns Topshop, Topman, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and Evans.

Field said: “Finally we see the famous Green chequebook produced, by Lady Green, to make good on at least some of the current promise to Arcadia’s pension scheme. Following the committee’s intervention, this is the first time TPR has confirmed it could pursue the Greens’ assets overseas to make good on the CVA promises.

“But that still leaves a worrying amount tied to Arcadia’s fortunes. 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.”

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