Sir Philip Green is reportedly close to agreeing to a deal that will see him shell out £350 million to fill the pension deficit of former BHS staff.
According to Sky News, a preliminary deal could be announced within days – nearly one year after the department store chain collapsed.
In November, the Pensions Regulator launched enforcement action against a number of parties, including Green after he failed to reach a deal to help fund BHS’ £571 million pension black hole even though he had promised MPs that he would “sort” it out with his own funds.
BHS went into administration just over a year after Green – who had owned the chain as part of his Arcadia Group retail empire – sold the retail chain to serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell.
Green has allegedly been trying to persuade the Pensions Regulator to drop its anti-avoidance probe in return for him making a voluntary contribution to the BHS pension fund, but the watchdog said he had failed to make a “sufficiently credible and comprehensive offer”.
Reports indicate that Green had offered around £250 million, £100 million less than what the Pensions Regulator demanded.
However, latest reports indicate that Green is working on a separate structure that would mean BHS pensioners would be paid outside of the Pension Protection Fund.
A Pensions Regulator spokesman confirmed that talks with Green were moving forward again.
“We remain in discussion with Sir Philip’s advisers,” he said.
“Any settlement offer we accept has to be robust enough to stand the test of time and mean that members and the PPF are not left in a worse position further down the road.”
Work and Pensions Committee chairman MP Frank Field said they would be “very pleased” if a deal were to be reached but they will “carefully analyse it to assess whether existing and future pensioners have been disadvantaged”.
“The key test is whether pensioners and future pensioners will get from this deal the pensions they expected before Sir Philip took ownership of BHS,” Field said.