April 29, 2017 / 11:41 PM / 3 months ago

British PM May sets out plans to protect pensions during takeovers

2 Min Read

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at an election campaign rally near Aberdeen in Scotland, Britain April 29, 2017.Russell Cheyne

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to protect workers against irresponsible practices over pensions on Sunday, promising new regulations on how schemes are handled during corporate takeovers.

May's Conservative party will give regulators power to examine takeover proposals that threaten the solvency of a company pension scheme, and the regulator could be empowered to block takeovers if it is not satisfied with the arrangements.

May set out the policy ahead of an election June 8. So far her pitch to voters has been based around trusting her to deliver Brexit, with parties yet to publish detailed policy plans.

"Today 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 in a statement. "Safeguarding pensions to ensure dignity in retirement is about security for families."

The pledge comes after high profile cases such as that of BHS, a retailer which was sold by billionaire Philip Green for one pound to a man who had been bankrupt before with no retail experience.

Green plugged a pension hole in the now-collapsed group with $451 million earlier this year, following severe criticism over his conduct and calls for his knighthood to be removed.

The Conservative's plans could also see regulators block unsustainable dividend payments that threaten a pension scheme's solvency, and directors who are found to have wilfully left a scheme under-funded could be fined or even suspended for a period of time.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Bernard Orr

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