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British billionaire pays $451 million to fix BHS pension schemes

Staff Writer |
British retailer billionaire Philip Green has paid 363 million pounds ($451 million) to pension schemes of the ollapsed department store chain BHS.

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He sold BHS for one pound to a serial bankrupt with no retail experience.

The settlement, some eight months after Green promised lawmakers he would "sort" the issue, is a record for Britain's pensions regulator, which has been going since 2005.

It was secured three months after it launched legal action against Green, who currently owns a string of UK fashion chains including Topshop.

The deal has the support of the trustees of the two BHS pension schemes which together have 19,000 members.

"I hope that this solution puts their minds at rest and closes this sorry chapter for them," Green said, describing the payment as "a voluntary contribution".

The demise of BHS was the biggest collapse in the British retail industry since Woolworths in 2008.

Green owned BHS for 15 years before he sold the loss-making 180-store chain to Dominic Chappell for one pound in 2015.

BHS's pension deficit had ballooned to 571 million pounds by the time the retailer went into administration in April 2016 - a figure based on what an insurance company would pay if it were to buy out the funds. Some 11,000 jobs were lost in total.

The deal provides funding for a new independent pension scheme to give BHS pensioners the option of the same starting pension they were originally promised by BHS, and higher benefits than they would get from the lifeboat scheme, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

Alternatively scheme members may opt for a lump sum payment if eligible or remain in their current scheme and receive benefits from the PPF.

The lump sum payment option will be available to members with small pots of up to 18,000 pounds in total value.

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