GPG gets UK pension warning notice

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 09:50 23/12/2013

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NZX-listed Guinness Peat Group has received a warning notice from the British pensions regulator relating to two of its UK pension schemes.

The notices relate to its Brunel and Staveley pension schemes, GPG said in a market announcement this morning.

However, the regulator would not be able to conclude its investigation and decide whether to issue a warning notice in relation to GPG's Coats pension plan before the end of the year, the company said.

GPG said the warning notices stated the regulator might issue a financial support direction against the company.

Such a direction would make a third party pay a specified amount into the pension schemes or put financial support in place for the defined-benefit scheme.

However, GPG said it was too early to be sure whether a direction would be issued against it.

The company was reviewing the warning notices with its advisers, and would be able to make written submissions to help the regulator determine whether to issue financial support directions.

Any hearing before the regulator's determinations panel was unlikely to take place before the second half of next year.

GPG has been in wind-up mode since 2010 but has told shareholders it must retain £124 million (NZ$247m) to cover pension obligations from its British activities. It revealed in April that the pensions regulator was investigating whether GPG should provide further support to the Coats and Brunel pension schemes still within the group - a move that would limit the return to shareholders.

Earlier this month GPG accused the regulator of hindering the settlement of pension issues, which in turn could delay cash payouts to GPG's shareholders.

GPG shares last traded at about 60 cents.

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- Fairfax Media

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