Nov 30, 2020

Has Topshop boss Philip Green done anything wrong?

Edward Heath called Tiny Rowland, the corporate raider, "The unacceptable face of capitalism", Robert Maxwell was excoriated for raiding the Mirror Group pensions, and more recently Jeffrey Skilling, the chief executive of Enron, went to jail for 12 years for enriching himself at the expense of shareholders and suppliers. He will face calls to repair any deficit in the Arcadia scheme, despite he and the company's owner, his wife Lady Cristina Green, having put substantial additional sums into the pension in recent years. As far as is known, Arcadia did not ignore any directions from the pension regulator to mend the pension, and indeed received an endorsement from the Pension Protection Fund for a company voluntary arrangement - a form of insolvency that allows a business to restructure its finances - in June last year. Several prominent retail businesses have gone into administration in the past two years, but in no case has there been an outcry for the owners to finance pension deficits personally. Even if there is no legal claim for them to refill the Arcadia pension, they might consider the wider court of public opinion, which is much less forgiving than any judge.

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