Retail tycoon Sir Philip Green could be asked to hand over 12.5% of his estimated £3.5bn net worth to saving 13,000 BHS workers from having their pensions cut.
The BHS pension scheme deficit has reached £571m since Green’s Arcadia sold the department store for £1 last year to Retail Acquisitions.
It is understood that The Pensions Regulator is considering whether to order Green to pay £280m of the £300m it would cost the “lifeboat” Pension Protection Fund to help with the gap if it is asked to take the scheme on.
This would still force staff under retirement age to take at least a 10% cut to their pensions schemes although the majority of BHS’s 6,700 existing pensioners won’t see any change to their payments as they are above retirement age.
Those receiving a pension because of ill health or one linked to a deceased relative will also not be affected.
Although Arcadia no longer owns BHS, TPR could invoke rules that allow it to pursue former owners.
Green could fight any such order should he so wish, but that wouldn’t bode well for the billionaire given that a super yacht his wife ordered several years ago is about to be delivered.
According to The Sunday Times, Green has offered to put £80m into the BHS pension scheme: £40m in cash and £40m via the cancellation of a charge he has over company assets.
Arcadia is already committed to paying £15m into the scheme over three years but the watchdog can insist Green pay extra if it decides that he should take more of the blame for the black hole in the scheme.