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Regulator probes considerations over P&O Ferries pension funds

Regulator probes considerations over P&O Ferries pension funds

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The UK’s Pensions Regulator is probing considerations that P&O Ferries has didn’t pay a £146mn debt owed to its 20,000-member group pension scheme.

The ferry operator owes the most important proportion of the £1.25bn scheme’s general deficit, however had not made any voluntary contributions since its acquisition in 2006 by logistics big DP World, which is majority owned by the Dubai Sovereign Wealth Fund, in line with a Excessive Court docket ruling in 2015.

P&O Ferries and its proprietor have come underneath intense criticism for his or her choice to sack 800 UK-based crew with no discover on Thursday, with the intention to minimize prices by changing them with cheaper company workers.

The ferry firm has misplaced £100mn a 12 months over the previous two years, and mentioned its enterprise was not “viable” with its present staffing constructions. The brand new construction will minimize workers prices by roughly 50 per cent, in line with an inside electronic mail seen by the Monetary Instances.

The losses have been absorbed by DP World, which reported report outcomes for 2021, with earnings earlier than curiosity, taxes, depreciation and amortisation growing 15 per cent to $3.8bn.

The Labour get together wrote to The Pensions Regulator in January calling on the watchdog to probe P&O’s unpaid contributions owed to the Service provider Navy Rankings Pension Fund.

Matt Rodda, shadow work and pensions secretary, instructed parliament in June 2021 that the debt may trigger “severe issues” for the fund, which has 20,000 members who work in a variety of corporations far past P&O.

On Friday, the Pensions Regulator confirmed it had acquired a letter from Rodda in relation to the MNRPF.

“We’re working intently with the trustee of the MNRPF in our function to guard pension scheme savers,” mentioned the regulator. “We’re not commenting additional at this stage.”

The MNRPF scheme reported a deficit of £96mn at its newest valuation in 2020. As a last-man-standing multiemployer pension scheme, if a collaborating employer is struggling to pay contributions, the knock-on impact is that different employers are required to satisfy the default contributions. There are roughly 100 employers collaborating within the scheme, however solely about half of these are required to contribute.

P&O has paid greater than £80mn into the fund since 2016, and the excellent deficit is secured in opposition to two of the ferry firm’s ships, in accordance an individual briefed on the matter.

P&O declined to touch upon its pensions liabilities.

The trustees of the scheme mentioned: “We’re working with the Pensions Regulator in help of any investigation or motion that might shield the pursuits of the fund, each with reference to safety of members’ advantages and affect on different collaborating employers.”

In 2018, the Pensions Regulator opened an investigation into the governance of the MNRPF and issued a warning discover the next 12 months setting out its suggestion to nominate an unbiased trustee to the scheme due to quite a few governance points.

Further reporting by Simeon Kerr in Dubai

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