BHS and the pensions regulator: seizing Sir Philip's yacht
Giving evidence to the DWP Select Committee this morning, the Pensions Regulator Lesley Titcomb spoke about the scope for the Regulator to seize Sir Philip Green’s yachts. This follows a specific question from the Chair of the Committee, Frank Field as to whether the Regulator could seize assets rather than cash in settlement of a pension liability.
The Regulator has confirmed that to date negotiations with Sir Philip have failed to elicit a comprehensive and credible offer of settlement of the BHS pension funding crisis, which is why she has now issued a warning notice that she is referring the matter to the Determinations Panel. The end result of this process could be a legally enforceable debt which could in theory result in Sir Philip losing his yacht. The Determinations panel is an independent panel of experts with legal powers to make judgements on pension funding requirements.
Tom McPhail, Head of retirement policy, Hargreaves Lansdown:
"Many people will find the prospect of the bailiffs seizing Sir Philip’s yacht peculiarly appealing. His failure to offer the Regulator a comprehensive and credible deal on the BHS pension scheme six months on from his promise to ‘sort it out’ has left no option but to pursue legal enforcement. The process will take many months yet though and there is always the possibility that he will yet make an acceptable offer; just possibly the prospect of the bailiffs on the gangplank will focus his mind. In the meantime, the scheme members continue to enjoy the security of the PPF lifeboat scheme, with the hope that a better deal may eventually be secured on their behalf."