4 May 2021: Argyll opens Leeds office

17 Jun 2020: TPR updates Contribution Deferral guidance

5 Aug 2019: TPR's tougher stance on recovery plans

7 Mar 2019: TPR’s Annual Funding Statement a game-changer

7 Dec 2018: DWP publishes superfund consultation

26 Jun 2017: TPR agrees settlement with Coats

30 Apr 2017: PM promises TPR M&A powers

28 Feb 2017: TPR agrees settlement with Sir Philip Green

9 Nov 2016: Brexit so far

8 Nov 2016: BHS ripple effect

2 Nov 2016: Sir Philip Green sent warning notice

1 Nov 2016: Argyll Financial becomes Argyll Covenant

3 Oct 2016: Tata Steel update

2 Jun 2016: BHS to be liquidated

29 Mar 2016: Tata plans sale of UK Steel

3 Sep 2015: TPR takes dim view of late valuations

13 Aug 2015: New TPR covenant guidance

28 May 2015: Contribution notice in Carrington Wire case

22 Dec 2014: Third warning notice for Guinness Peat

18 Dec 2014: New PPF rules for Asset-Backed Contributions

19 Aug 2014: TPR announces Lehman Brothers settlement

10 Jun 2014: TPR publishes revised funding code

27 Mar 2014: EC postpones holistic balance sheet

20 Mar 2014: PPF announces new insolvency risk model

17 Mar 2014: PPF guarantees harder to certify

7 Feb 2014: Argyll Financial submits consultation response

2 Dec 2013: Regulator publishes new draft funding code

19 Nov 2013: Asset-backed contributions guidance from TPR

22 Oct 2013: FSD warning helps MF Global scheme buyout

10 Sep 2013: TPR supportive of Kodak restructuring

31 Jul 2013: Schneider Electric acquires Invensys for £3.4bn

24 Jul 2013: Supreme Court overturns FSD super-priority

8 May 2013: Support for employers in TPR's Statement

22 Dec 2014: Third warning notice for Guinness Peat
The Pensions Regulator has issued a warning notice to Guinness Peat Group plc in an attempt to force it to provide greater support for the Coats Pension Plan.
GPG is an investment holding company listed on the London, Australian and New Zealand Stock Exchanges.  In 2011 it announced its intention to realise its investment portfolio leaving just thread manufacturer, Coats plc, as the only operating asset.  GPG’s plan to distribute the proceeds of the realisation has been delayed by the intervention of TPR.

The notice is the latest step in a long-running investigation into three schemes within the GPG group.  In 2013, TPR issued warning notices to GPG relating to its two other schemes, the Staveley and Brunel schemes, which have also been left within the group following the realisation.  The notices indicate that in the case team's view the schemes may be insufficiently resourced and it may be reasonable for TPR’s Determinations Panel to issue Financial Support Directions.

GPG will try to fend off the latest warning notice by negotiating with TPR but if that fails the Determinations Panel will consider the matter most likely in 2016.  GPG has indicated any Panel hearing in relation to the Brunel and Staveley schemes is unlikely to be until the second half of this year at the earliest.

Argyll comment: TPR’s concern in this case appears to be that the payment to shareholders of the proceeds from the asset realisation could leave the remaining schemes without sufficient support.  With Coats being the only operating business remaining in the group there is also presumably the risk that Coats effectively ‘inherits’ the other two schemes, a concern for the Coats trustees.

Warning notices against ongoing businesses are rare – the only other example (in the public domain at least) was in relation to the Great Lakes (UK) Limited Pension Plan in 2010.  Other potential FSD cases have involved insolvent groups such as Lehman Brothers and Nortel.  The case is of particular interest therefore as it could involve potentially three FSDs against the same solvent group.

The level of adviser fees spent by GPG on this matter has come under public scrutiny, with many commentators criticising as excessive the £10m spent so far and a further £8m provided for (as per GPG’s half year interim report).  It would seem beneficial to all if a deal can be reached soon given the means to provide support is on GPG’s balance sheet as cash and to avoid incurring further adviser fees which could otherwise be used for the benefit of the schemes.

Clear and concise analysis
Our approach
Our experience