Pensions Regulator Drops Probe Into Publisher Johnston Press

The UK Pensions Regulator has dropped its probe into whether Johnston Press used an insolvency process to dump £300m of pension liabilities into the industry-backed Pension Protection Fund, the Financial Times reported. The regulator opened an investigation in November after Johnston, the publisher of the Scotsman and Yorkshire Post, used a “pre-pack” insolvency to keep the business afloat. Pre-packs are legitimate procedures that allow a business to go into administration, with the assets then sold on to a new buyer, minus liabilities such as pension debt. Once a company is insolvent, its pension scheme becomes eligible for transfer to the PPF, where members face cuts to their retirement income. The administrators of Johnston Press sold the group’s assets to JPI Media Group, a company set up by the publisher’s lenders, for £181m, while the Johnston Press Pension Plan, which had 4,771 members and an estimated deficit of £305m, was jettisoned to the PPF. Read more