The Pension Regulator has published its report into the controversial sale of BHS, concluding that Sir Philip Green offloaded the retailer to avoid pension liability should it go bust.
The long-awaited report into the sale of BHS, which Green owned for 15 years before selling it for £1, argues that the sale was designed to delay the firm falling into insolvency and prevent his company from being held liable for the growing pensions deficit.
Shortly after he sold the company to Dominic Chappell, BHS collapsed and 22,000 ex and current employees’ pensions were affected, alongside around 11,000 jobs.
“We argued that the main purpose of the sale was to postpone BHS’ insolvency to prevent a liability to the schemes falling due while it was part of the Taveta group of companies ultimately owned by the Green family,” the report read.
Executive director of Frontline Regulation Nicola Parish added: “The report highlights the lessons we have learned from this case about how we can regulate more effectively.
“We are already acting more quickly to intervene where we consider schemes to be underfunded, or where there are indications that employers may be avoiding their responsibilities.”
After various challenges from MPs and regulatory bodies, Green contributed £363 million of his own money to plug the £571 million deficit. Both Green and Chappell still face potential criminal investigation.
A spokesman for Green told The Guardian: “This is the first and possibly the only time that a private individual, who has not been found to have done anything wrong, has voluntarily rescued a pension scheme. The matter is now closed.”
Green also stated that his was a better outcome than if the scheme had relied on the Pension Protection Fund to recoup losses.
“I have made a voluntary contribution of up to £363 million to enable the trustees of the BHS pension schemes to achieve a significantly better outcome than the schemes entering the PPF, which was the goal from the outset,” he said.