Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Regulators to hold pensions summit as Carillion crisis deepens

Regulators to hold pensions summit as Carillion crisis deepens Carillion warning spurs pensions crisis talks
Kelvin Reese | 14 January, 2018, 00:25

Carillion is a major supplier to the Government and key contractor in the first phase of building the £56 billion HS2 rail line, but has seen its share price plunge almost 80% in the past six months after making a string of profit warnings and breaching its financial covenants.

The consultancy EY has been put on notice in case the company falls into administration.

It comes as the Government, pension authorities and stakeholders met on Friday in an attempt to thrash out a rescue package for the firm which would help it avoid collapse.

The assistant general secretary of the Unite union, Gail Cartmail, said: "The government must consider all options while the future of Carillion hangs in the balance, including bringing contracts back in-house".

Scottish Labour's shadow economy secretary Jackie Baillie called on the Scottish Government to clarify the potential impact if Carillion collapses.

"The thousands of workers with Carillion and those in the supply chain servicing its contracts across the public sector will be desperately anxious about the future and they too need to be reassured by the Scottish Government as a matter of urgency". We urgently need to know just how exposed the Scottish Government and the public purse is if Carillion were to collapse.

It is the second-largest supplier to Network Rail and maintains approximately half of the UK's prisons as well as roughly 50,000 homes for the Ministry of Defence.

In addition to its rail operations, Carillion also manages almost 900 schools, provides services to the NHS and works with National Grid.

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The firm's share price has plunged by more than 90% over the past year.

The company was once valued above £2 billion but is now fighting net debts of more than £900 million, following a crisis sparked in July a year ago when it issued a profit warning, suspended its dividend, and said key contracts were not losing money as debt rose.

He said it was a "pretty messy situation", adding: "The situation is pretty bleak".

The schemes' trustees, The Pensions Regulator (TPR), the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), civil servants from the Cabinet Office, and city advisers are all set to meet today, Sky News reported. It also has contracts in many other industrial sectors.

Unions have also urged the Government to step in to protect 19,500 jobs that are now at risk.

A TPR spokesperson said: "We have been and remain closely involved in discussions with Carillion and the trustees of the pension schemes as this situation has unfolded".

The future of troubled engineering company Carillion is being discussed at high-level government meetings this weekend, the BBC understands.

But in Friday's statement, Carillion said: "Suggestions that Carillion's business plan has been rejected by stakeholders are incorrect".

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