Sir Philip Green could recover £15m from BHS pensions rescue deal

John-Paul Ford Rojas, Business Reporter

Former BHS owner Sir Philip Green could receive £15m back from his £363m deal to bail out the retailer's pension scheme, details released by the regulator have revealed.

The tycoon will be entitled to the sum if 90% of eligible pension fund members take a lump sum payment in the settlement rather than buying an annuity providing them with a yearly income.

Frank Field, the Labour MP who has led criticism of Sir Philip in the wake of BHS's collapse last year, called for him to plough any "refund" back into the scheme.

That is because despite Sir Philip's agreement to rescue the pension funds, its members will still receive only an average 88% of the benefits for which they paid.

It compares to 69% of promised benefits they would have received had the scheme collapsed into the "lifeboat" scheme, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

MPs' analysis of figures from The Pensions Regulator also suggested that the deal had prioritised 16 "loyal senior managers" who have seen a cap on their high pensions benefits completely removed.

Mr Field said those who do far less well are "ordinary staff of working age, many of whom will have lost their jobs as well".

BHS collapsed last year, putting 11,000 staff out of work and leaving a £571m pensions deficit in a retirement scheme covering 19,000 members.

Sir Philip had sold the company to former bankrupt Dominic Chappell in 2015.

He later promised to "sort" the pension scheme black hole and the settlement announced last month ended action by the regulator to seek redress for its members.

The deal involved a voluntary cash payment of £343m towards improved benefits for scheme members, plus £20m being made available for implementation costs.

Sir Philip, whose Arcadia retail empire includes Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Top Shop, declined to comment on the latest details.

But sources close to him said the £15m should not be classed as a "refund" as it was a contingency made as part of the settlement in case needed, which could be returned to him if not.

They pointed out that the deal was signed off by the regulator and the PPF and welcomed by pension fund trustees.

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