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Sir Philip Green 'set to express regret' over £1 sale of BHS to ex-bankrupt

Published 10/06/2016

Sir Philip Green is expected to express regret over selling BHS to a former bankrupt with no retail experience
Sir Philip Green is expected to express regret over selling BHS to a former bankrupt with no retail experience

Sir Philip Green is expected to express regret over selling BHS to a former bankrupt with no retail experience when he faces MPs next week.

Sources close to the billionaire tycoon suggest that Sir Philip will claim to have been taken in by Dominic Chappell's "lies and deception" and say that he regrets the £1 sale of the chain when being probed over the retailer's collapse.

He may also offer an olive branch to furious MPs on the Business and Pensions Committee by telling them he is working on a plan that will see more cash pumped into BHS's pension scheme, which has been left with a deficit of £571 million.

Observers believe one option could see Sir Philip put close to £100 million into the fund, along with waiving £35 million of debt owed by BHS to his Arcadia retail empire.

A spokesman for Arcadia said: "There is a proper process and Sir Philip will not be commenting on his evidence until he gives it on Wednesday".

Westminster insiders believe that nothing short of the £571 million will appease the committee, with a group of Tory backbenchers poised to call for his knighthood to be revoked.

Labour MP Jim McMahon has also written to David Cameron seeking the Prime Minister's support in stripping Sir Philip of his knighthood.

He wrote on Thursday: "This person falls short of meeting the high standard required to hold this honour.

"I believe that the evidence is overwhelming and particularly that his knighthood which was linked to his achievements in the British retail sector is now wholly inappropriate."

The schemes of approximately 20,000 current and former BHS workers have fallen into the Pension Protection Fund after the retailer collapsed in April.

It is also understood that Sir Philip will train his guns on the Pensions Regulator, who he ultimately blames for the state of the fund, after it rejected several restructuring proposals during his ownership.

Sir Philip has also come under fire for taking £400 million in dividends out of the firm during his 15-year ownership, and for selling BHS to Mr Chappell for £1 in 2015.

On Wednesday, Mr Chappell claimed to MPs that Sir Philip blocked a rescue attempt for BHS from Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley, favouring instead to plunge BHS into administration.

Sir Philip will mount a vigorous denial of the claim, while Mike Ashley will submit evidence in writing detailing his version of events.

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From Belfast Telegraph