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Pension War Could End Toys R Us This Week

21 December 2017, 01:10 | Lucy Hill

Hundreds of jobs at risk as Toys R Us faces collapse

Toys R Us troubles put 3200 jobs at risk

Toys R Us could be plunged into administration after the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) said that it intends to vote against current restructuring plans this Thursday - unless its demands are met.

It has already announced a plan to close 26 United Kingdom branches for the loss of 800 jobs; this move could see the company's entire workforce of 3,200 on the scrapheap, just in time for Christmas. That deal would lead to the loss of up to 800 jobs.

If the procedure were unsuccessful, it was considered likely that all 84 stores and a few more pop-ups would be forced to shut their doors, potentially leaving as many as 3,200 staff out of work.

However, the organisation has said discussions are still ongoing with Toys R Us and its advisers, and it is prepared to change its vote if suitable assurances are made on the future of the company's pension scheme.

Insolvency rules mean the CVA requires the support of the PPF, a statutory body set up to compensate pension fund members in the event of a company's collapse.

Work and pensions select committee chair Frank Field said: "It has also recently been reported that payments to the United Kingdom head of Toys R Us soared from £356,000 in 2014 to £1.3million for the year ending 30 January 2016and that the beneficiary of this surge in remuneration was the then managing director Roger McLaughlan".

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Because of Toys R Us' troubles, its pension fund is automatically pushed into assessment by the PPF, which will give it a key vote at the meeting and potential to block the process.

Sources close to the process claim that Toys R Us' hands are tied as it doesn't have £9mln spare to inject.

Concerns have also been raised about the write-off of £584.5m in loans owed by a Toys R Us firm based in the British Virgin Islands as part of a group reorganisation previous year and what impact this might have on the pension scheme.

Yesterday, the PPF stressed that talks will continue with Toys R Us in the hope of reaching an agreement ahead of Thursday's crunch vote.

All Toys R Us shops will remain trading through Christmas, but if the CVA is approved, those stores affected will begin closing from the spring.



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