Turkey business Bernard Matthews faces pension probe

William Turvill
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Turkeys Roam On California Farm Ahead Of The Holiday Season
The "chicken king" Ranjit Boparan gobbled up turkey company Bernard Matthews in September (Source: Getty)

The pensions lifeboat is looking into the retirement plans of a turkey company that went into administration last year.

Bernard Matthews was acquired from private equity firm Rutland Partners by 2 Sisters in September.

2 Sisters, whose chief executive Ranjit Boparan is known as the “chicken king”, agreed the deal under a pre-pack administration, meaning it bought the assets of the company but not the liabilities, including pensions.

Read more: Expert hits out at pension scheme getting booooot-ed into PPF

The pension scheme is set to be absorbed by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) and many of the 700 members of the scheme face cuts to their retirement income.

Malcolm Weir, head of restructuring and insolvency at the PPF, said the Bernard Matthews pension scheme was being assessed.

“We will therefore work with the insolvency practitioner, the Pensions Regulator and the trustees of the scheme to maximise the recovery to the scheme,” he said.

“While the PPF does not have investigatory or regulatory powers other parties do.”

Read more: "Chicken King" Ranjit Boparan gobbles up turkey business Bernard Matthews

Trustees of the scheme are also investigating the funding of the scheme.

The Financial Times reported that both groups were investigating whether the retirement plan was deprived of cash before Bernard Matthews went into administration.

Antony Miller, chief executive of 2020 Trustees, believes the scheme has a shortfall of between £30-40m. He told the FT:

We are investigating whether actions taken in recent years were appropriate, necessary and resulted in the pension scheme receiving fair value.

We are reviewing a vast amount of historic data and communications and will use the findings to conclude on what action, if any, that we should take and whether to involve the pensions regulator.

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