MPs concerned Arcadia rescue plan will fail

The Work and Pensions Select Committee has written to The Pension Regulator (TPR) over concerns that the plan to rescue the Arcadia Group pension scheme will fail.

In the letter to TPR chief executive Charles Counsell, Work and Pensions Select Committee chair Frank Field said that, due to the uncertainty facing Arcadia owner Taveta Investments, it seemed likely that the plan will fail.

He stated: “It seems increasingly unlikely that Arcadia’s three-year rescue plan will succeed. Does TPR remain confident in the agreed £310m package agreed earlier this year?”

In June, Arcadia had seven company voluntary arrangements approved by creditors, saving its pension scheme from entering the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

The firm reached an agreement with the trustees, TPR and the PPF to reduce its deficit repair contributions from £50m to £25m, for three years, alongside security over certain assets totalling £210m, with Lady Green providing an additional £100m.

In the letter, Field also asked the regulator whether the refinancing of the loan on the Topshop store in Oxford Street would have any impact on the value of the deal, and what circumstances would have to arise before TPR took action on the guarantees provided by Arcadia and Lady Green.

There were also concerns cited about the long-term future of the Acadia scheme members, and Field questioned what assurances the regulator or trustees are offering to the members.

Finally, Field asked Counsell whether any discussions were taking place about securing the long-term future of the schemes, either by completing a buyout or other means.

TPR has previously said that it could pursue Arcadia owner Philip Green’s overseas assets, if they fail to provide the pension contributions promised in their rescue plan.

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