MPs call firms to give evidence over BHS collapse

PARTNERS from Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and Grant Thornton will give evidence to MPs next week over over the collapse of high street retailer BHS, following its plunge into administration which threatens up to 11,000 jobs.

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (BIS) and the Work and Pensions Committee confirmed that senior representatives from several of the UK’s largest accountancy firms will be called to account at a number of joint evidence sessions across 23 May and 25 May.

Deloitte’s Tony Clare, KPMG’s David Clarke and PwC’s Richard Cousins are all due to give evidence about their pension advice on Monday, alongside representatives from law firm Nabarro: partner Ian Greenstreet; and former partner Anne-Marie Winton.

Iain Wright MP, chair of the BIS committee, said: “In these sessions, we will want to explore how Retail Acquisitions Limited (RAL) was considered to be a suitable buyer for BHS, an apparently struggling high street store which was saddled with a large pension deficit.

“We will want to untangle the nature of the advice, both formal and informal, which was provided to Arcadia and RAL as part of the sale process. We will want to probe the role of directors in this sale and to examine whether the existing regulatory regime is fit for purpose.”

The second Monday session sees advisers to Arcadia/Taveta called up, including PwC partner Steve Denison, Linklaters partner Owen Clay and Goldman Sachs managing director Anthony Gutman.

The third panel that day is set to include: Ian Grabiner, Arcadia CEO; Lord Grabiner, director of Taveta Investments; Paul Budge, Arcadia Group FD and a director of Taveta Investments. Others due to appear in the session are: Gillian Hague, director, Arcadia Group and Taveta Investments (No.2) Ltd; and Chris Harris, Arcadia Group’s property director.

Frank Field MP, chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, said: “We have selected our witnesses with five key questions in mind: how much money over the past decade or more left BHS? How did the pension fund deficit grow during this phase? To whom did this money go? How did the pension fund feature in negotiations over BHS’s recent change of ownership? And does the law, or rather the enforcement of the law, require reform to prevent similar episodes happening in future?”

The third panel on Wednesday 25 May will grill advisers to Retail Acquisitions and will include an as yet unnamed representative from Grant Thornton.

On 8 June 2016, the committees will question BHS management, the RAL board, and Dominic Chappell, the former racing driver who bought BHS for £1 from Sir Phillip Green when it was saddled with debts of over £1bn and a massive pension deficit.

On 15 June 2016, the committees will question tycoon Sir Philip Green.

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