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

28 May 2015: Contribution notice in Carrington Wire case
TPR has published a report detailing its investigation into the Carrington Wire Defined Benefit Pension Scheme, and a decision to issue a £382,000 contribution notice against an individual who took control of the sponsor.

In January this year TPR announced that an £8.5 million settlement had been reached with two Russian businesses, PAO Severstal and OAO Severstal-Metiz.  Large Russian steel and mining group Severstal had acquired the sponsor, Carrington Wire Ltd, in 2006 and as part of the transaction had provided a guarantee in relation to Carrington’s pension obligations.  The guarantee contained a proviso that it would fall away if Severstal ceased to be associated with the sponsor.

In 2008 Severstal began to look at options to exit Carrington Wire.  In 2010 Carrington’s assets were transferred to Russia and the business was effectively wound down.  In June 2010, without consulting the Trustees, Severstal sold Carrington to Gillico Ltd (a shell company owned by Richard Williams) for £1.  Included in the sale was a purported ‘working capital adjustment’ of £400,000, the majority of which was received by Mr Williams personally.  The guarantee therefore fell away and the Scheme was reliant on the covenant of Carrington which had been wound down.

TPR issued warning notices to the two Severstal companies and Mr Williams in November 2012.  The £8.5 million settlement reached with Severstal was less than the £17.7m originally sought by TPR, and insufficient to keep the Scheme out of the PPF.  However TPR took into account the fact that the Russian companies had no assets in the UK and took specialist advice on the enforcement of contribution notices in the Russian courts.
In April this year, the Determinations Panel ruled that a notice should be issued to Mr Williams.

Argyll comment:  As ever a reminder that the overseas enforceability of contribution notices is still largely untested.  Also a cautionary reminder for employers where weak guarantees are used as a means for a future abandonment of a pension scheme.  

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