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UK roundup: Retailer faces political pressure over pension funding [updated]

UK roundup: Retailer faces political pressure over pension funding [updated]

first_img“Do you remain confident that the current recovery plan will be sufficient to clear the deficit?” the MP asked.The pension deficit for the company’s defined benefit scheme fell from £646m (€739m) in October 2016 to £492m the same time last year thanks in part, Dixons Carphone said at the time, to a £46m contribution and “changes in discount and inflation rate assumptions”.Mothercare schemes set to exit PPF assessment as restructuring plan agreed UK MPs have written to Dixons Carphone requesting clarity over the funding of its pension scheme in the wake of a profit warning last week that sent the telecoms and electronics retailer’s share price into a tailspin.The Work and Pensions Select Committee, a cross-party group of MPs from the UK’s lower house of parliament, has sent a letter to Dixons Carphone following news that its 2018 profits could be as much as 21% lower than the previous year.In a letter addressed to Geoffrey Budd, chairman of DSG Pension Trustees, Frank Field, the committee’s chair, wrote: “The new group chief executive remarked in the latest update that ‘there’s plenty to fix’ in the company and that ‘nobody is happy with our performance today’. As the company pursues its plans to address these issues, to what extent is it keeping the pension scheme trustees informed and engaged?”Field further touched upon prospective plans to reduce the scheme’s deficit. Credit: Susanna RustA Mothercare shop in Wood Green, LondonTwo defined benefit (DB) pension funds sponsored by another struggling high street retailer, Mothercare, are set to exit the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) following creditor approval for a restructuring plan.The company, which retails to parents of babies and young children, moved to refinance its business in May by proposing to enter into company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) for three of its subsidiaries, Mothercare UK, Early Learning Centre (ELC) and Children’s World.The DB schemes for Mothercare and ELC were placed into the PPF’s assessment period.Creditors this week approved plans for Mothercare and ELC, which could now trigger the return of the company’s two DB plans – the Executive and Staff schemes – to the trustees’ control from the auspices of the PPF.Creditors rejected the CVA for Children’s World, which does not operate a DB scheme.FTSE 350 schemes near full fundingThe aggregate shortfall of defined benefit schemes for the UK’s 350 largest listed companies fell by nearly a third during May, according to Mercer.FTSE 350 pension schemes’ total deficit was £34bn at the end of the month, compared to £50bn at the end of April. Total assets rose to £791bn while liabilities were £825bn, giving an aggregate funding ratio of 96%.It continues a trend of improving funding across listed company schemes over the past two years. Mercer’s estimate showed a £156bn funding gap in September 2016, which shrank to £72bn at the start of this year.Alan Baker, chair of Mercer’s DB policy group, warned schemes not to be complacent: “Market swings could dramatically reverse these improvements and have done so in the past. Therefore, it’s important that trustees and sponsors understand the risks they’re exposed to and have the right strategies in place to lock in these gains.”A similar estimate from JLT Employee Benefits put the FTSE 350 DB scheme shortfall at just £9bn at the end of May, inferring an aggregate funding position of 99%.Note: This article has been updated to confirm that Mothercare’s DB schemes have not yet left the PPF’s assessment process.last_img read more

Slay try suspect jailed

Slay try suspect jailed

first_imgILOILO City – Charged with frustrated murder, a man was arrested in Barangay Buntatala, Jaro district. According to police investigators, Bueno committed the crime in Guimbal, Iloilo. The 46-year-old Newpoy Bueno was caught on the strength of an arrest warrant around 1 p.m. on July 1, a police report showed. The suspect was detained in the lockup cell of the Guimbal municipal police station. The court recommended a P24,000 bail bond for his temporary liberty./PNlast_img

Mata moves closer to United switch

Mata moves closer to United switch

first_img “I can understand completely what Chelsea are doing. They could have sold him last week. “They do not make the rules, but maybe the rules should be adapted a bit more for more fairness.” None of this will concern United, who have endured such a poor campaign. Arguably their latest setback was the lowest point of all, given they found themselves outplayed at home by the team currently 19th in the Premier League, gifted Sunderland a last-minute goal that deprived them of a place in the final and then, after salvaging the situation through Javier Hernandez deep in stoppage time, conspired to convert just one of five kicks in what must go down as one of the worst penalty shoot-outs of all time. It has led to Moyes being savaged by some fans, who bombarded radio phone-ins to express their concerns. Others have been more measured in their assessment, acknowledging the squad left by Sir Alex Ferguson was flattered in the extreme by a 20th championship, achieved by a massive 11 points. It has created a situation where everyone, inside Old Trafford and out, accepts requires a major injection of morale, which former defender Gary Pallister insists Mata will provide. “He is a fantastic signing,” said Pallister, who was speaking at the National Football Museum, where he helped launch an exhibition dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the Northern League. “He has great skill, great imagination, flair and goalscoring ability. “A lot of people can’t quite understand why he has not been in Jose Mourinho’s team after being player of the year for the last two seasons. “He is the kind of player Manchester United fans want to see. He has great imagination and can get people off their seats in anticipation of the things he can do with a football. “We are delighted to get hold of him. Hopefully he can help lift Manchester United out of the spell they are going through.” As a teenager, Pallister spent 18 months in the Northern League with Billingham Town before moving on to Middlesbrough, where he caught the eye of Ferguson. He was part of the side that flirted with relegation in 1990 before eventually pulling clear of trouble and then winning the FA Cup, the start of almost a quarter of a century of unprecedented success with United. “That side was close to getting into a relegation scrap,” said Pallister, who won four Premier League titles and three FA Cups during his nine-year stint at Old Trafford. “We very nearly went into the relegation zone. “People have to remember it is very difficult to join a club the size of Manchester United. Even walking into the stadium as a supporter for the first time takes your breath away. “This is a work in progress – and everybody has to get behind the manager and staff.” Although it was widely assumed the Chelsea midfielder would head north for a medical on Thursday, Mata was forced to wait for the final details to be thrashed out between the clubs. United officials remained relaxed about the situation, giving no indication there had been any last-minute hitch that could delay the move. And, although some Manchester City fans have suggested Mata aborted his journey in the wake of United’s shattering Capital One Cup semi-final exit to Sunderland, it is widely assumed the formalities will be concluded within the next 24 hours. That would allow the 25-year-old to train with his new team-mates over the weekend, before being presented to the media next week, possibly ahead of what seems certain to be his debut against Cardiff at Old Trafford on January 28. Ineligible for the remainder of United’s Champions League campaign, Mata is tasked with trying to help his new club secure a top-four spot, having dropped six points adrift of Liverpool. Yet, whilst hopes of retaining their Premier League title have all but disappeared, United could have a significant say in who does win it. And it has not escaped Arsene Wenger’s attention that Mata will strengthen a United side that may have already faced Chelsea twice, but still have matches against Arsenal and Manchester City to play. “It opens up again questions about the dates of this transfer window,” said Wenger. “Some teams have already played twice against one opponent and some others not. “If you want to respect the fairness for everybody that should not happen. Juan Mata is expected to complete his club-record move to Manchester United on Friday. Press Associationlast_img read more