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Learning from the BHS pensions debacle

Neil Hodge | July 25, 2017

Corporate tycoons and their disregard for company pension schemes is a touchy subject in the United Kingdom, particularly as none of the parties involved—the business owner, the regulator, the government, the auditors, and other professional advisers—come out of the ensuing scandal particularly well. However, it is the workforce that ultimately pays, while those at fault tend to dust themselves down and move on.

At the end of February, disgraced corporate tycoon Sir Philip Green agreed to pay £363m to plug some of the BHS pension shortfall caused by his poor stewardship of the company and its subsequent fire sale to thrice-bankrupt retail novice Dominic Chappell. The settlement put an end to the United Kingdom’s Pensions Regulator’s legal action against Green that it started last year.

The pension deficit of the department store chain was assessed to be £571m after its collapse last April, so Sir Philip got a £208m discount, while 11,000 people lost their jobs and 19,...

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