Updated: 11th January 2018
Background: The scheme employer was part of a major multi-national group of companies in negotiations with the scheme employer and the executive management of its ultimate quoted parent company as part of the ongoing scheme funding process having reached its triennial valuation date. The employer had already undertaken its own covenant review to include overall group to assist it in negotiations with the Trustees of its pension scheme. Instructions: The instructions were to review the employer’s covenant assessment and advise them independently of the strength of that covenant and make recommendations on affordability and comment on the existing parent company guarantee in place and availability of other potential security. Action: The employer’s covenant assessment was reviewed and additional verification of data was undertaken and information obtained from the scheme employer. This also embraced discussions with the employer’s advisers who had carried out the covenant assessment for the employer. The Trustees were then advised of the result of that review and the strength of the covenant based on that review. A recommendation was made to the Trustees of a substantial figure they should seek to repair the scheme deficit of over £300 million based on the outcome of that review and the assessment of what was affordable. Follow up: The employer disputed the amount sought offering a considerably lower figure and ongoing funding at levels considered to be totally inadequate by the Trustees both in amount and the period over which it was offered. Discussions were entered into with the ultimate employer who took over control of the negotiations from the scheme employer. They presented forward group cash flow projections and information about group plans to justify their stance. These indicated there was still a significant level of uncommitted cash available which did not justify the very low level of their offer to the Trustees. Negotiations continue and the matter now involves the Pensions Regulator as the 15 month scheme funding deadline has been breached.
Julie is a law graduate who qualified with Price Waterhouse in 1994. Julie joined Smith & Williamson in 1997 and became a partner in 2001. With Mike Stevenson, Julie set up Middleton Partners offices in Salisbury and Southampton, both of which are now part of Begbies Traynor.
Julie is a member of the Insolvency Practitioners Association and is a Fellow of The Association of Business Recovery Professionals. Julie deals with all aspects of Corporate Recovery and turnaround work and takes all form of personal insolvency appointments.