UK’s May plans tougher take-over rules to protect pensions

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at an election campaign rally near Aberdeen in Scotland, April 29, 2017. — Reuters picBritain’s Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at an election campaign rally near Aberdeen in Scotland, April 29, 2017. — Reuters picLONDON, April 30 — Prime Minister Theresa May is set to impose new restrictions on company take-overs in the UK as part of a plan to protect workers’ pensions from “unscrupulous” bosses.

If re-elected in June, May’s Conservatives will give authorities the power to block such deals and launch criminal prosecutions of company bosses who put pension schemes at risk, the party said.

“I am setting out our plans, if elected, to ensure the pensions of ordinary working people are protected against the actions of unscrupulous company bosses,” May said yesterday in an emailed statement. “Safeguarding pensions to ensure dignity in retirement is about security for families, and it’s another example of the choice in this election.”

May’s promise comes as new opinion polls show her party remains on course to win a bigger majority in the June 8 vote, which Tories say they need in order to strengthen the premier’s position ahead of Brexit negotiations.

Her focus on protecting pensions follows a public outcry in Britain over the collapse of the retail chain BHS after Philip Green, majority owner of clothier Arcadia group, sold the company. In February, he agreed to pay as much as £363 million to compensate 19,000 former workers of the collapsed department store chain after months of haggling with the country’s Pensions Regulator.

‘Punitive fines’

Under May’s plan, any company pursuing a merger or acquisition valued over a set amount -– or with more than a prescribed number of members -– would have to notify the Pensions Regulator, which could then apply clearance conditions, the Conservatives said yesterday.

In extreme cases, where there was no credible plan or willingness to ensure the solvency of the scheme, the pension scheme or Pensions Regulator could be given new powers to stand in the way of takeovers, the party said in an emailed statement.

Other sanctions could include “punitive fines” for those found to have wilfully left a pension plan under-resourced; barring individuals from being company directors for a period of time; and introducing a specific new criminal offense of a company board deliberately or recklessly putting a pension scheme at risk.

A poll from ORB for the Sunday edition of the Telegraph newspaper put the Conservatives at 42 per cent, with Labour at 31 per cent, the Liberal Democrats at 10 per cent, and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) at eight per cent.

Another survey from Opinium for the Observer newspaper put the Tories at 47 per cent, up 2 percentage points, with Labour at 30 per cent, up 4 points, and the Liberal Democrats down 3 points to 8 per cent. UKIP polled 7 per cent. — Bloomberg

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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