Sir Philip Green has paid £363 million in a settlement over the pension schemes of collapsed retailer BHS.
The billionaire tycoon said the sum, significantly less than the £571 million deficit the firm was left with when it went bust last year, represents a “significantly better” outcome than the schemes entering the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).
The collapse of the high street giant left thousands out of work and the deficit in its pension scheme affected around 22,000 people.
The settlement comes after Sir Philip was grilled by MPs over the sale of BHS, which he owned for 15 years before selling it for £1 to former bankrupt Dominic Chappell.
Sir Philip initially offered £250m but the regulator had sought at least £350m.
The tycoon said: “The settlement follows lengthy, complex discussions with the Pensions Regulator and the PPF, both of which are satisfied with the solution that has been offered.”
Frank Field, the Labour MP who co-chaired a parliamentary inquiry into the demise of BHS, described the deal as an “important milestone in bringing justice to BHS pensioners and its workers” but said the issue was not over yet.
He added: “There are a lot of other issues which are not solved by this which we will obviously be looking at and the courts and everybody else will be too.”
Negotiations centred on getting scheme members a pension closer to the one they were originally promised. Failed pension schemes are usually rescued by the PPF, which pays out a reduced amount.
Former BHS office manager Lin Macmillan, 61, of Edinburgh, said she needed further details on the agreement before giving it “the total thumbs up”.
She said: “I think the devil will be in the detail and what isn’t clear is whether there will be inflationary increases for BHS pensions.”
Former pensions minister Steve Webb, now director of policy at Royal London, berated Sir Philip, saying he could have spared staff “misery and uncertainty if he had stumped up the cash willingly, rather than only after many months of protracted negotiations”.
Sir Philip had previously apologised to BHS staff and admitted he sold the business to the “wrong guy” and vowed to “sort” the firm’s pension scheme – while MPs backed a non-binding motion for the billionaire to be stripped of his knighthood.