ITV has submitted a £31m offer to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) for the Box Clever Pension Scheme after being forced to set out how it would financially support the scheme following a lengthy court process.
In its half-year report published yesterday (6 August), the broadcaster said it had submitted the proposal to the regulator on 31 July based on an IAS 19 valuation of the scheme using market conditions as of 30 April 2020.
ITV was given a six-month deadline by TPR in March to propose the funding plan for the scheme, which entered Pension Protection Fund (PPF) assessment in 2014, 11 years after Box Clever's collapse.
Box Clever was formed in 2000 as a 50:50 joint venture between Granada, now ITV, and Thorn, now Carmelite, but the funding for the scheme was delayed awaiting court consideration over TPR's decision to issue a financial support direction (FSD) to ITV and four connected entities.
The case was referred to the Upper Tribunal but then drawn out by a series of appeals from ITV over TPR's submission of additional evidence in late 2013. The substantive hearings finally began in 2018, with both the Upper Tribunal and Court of Appeal dismissing ITV's arguments.
Last year the Court of Appeal said ITV's arguments were "without substance" and the Supreme Court this year rejected a request for a further appeal.
The scheme is understood to have a £110m buyout deficit as of the same date, based on membership data as of February 2020, including former employees of ITV's former joint venture partner Thorn.
The company said it would "strongly contest any attempt to impose liability in an amount the directors consider unreasonable". During the court proceedings, ITV said it was unreasonable to require it to pay for any liability it deemed to be the responsibility of Carmelite.
The FSD approach does not allow the regulator to dictate the exact funding plans of ITV for the scheme, but the watchdog must approve those which are submitted.
A TPR spokesperson said: "We have received a proposal from ITV plc for supporting the Box Clever Pension Scheme. This is in response to our Determinations Panel issuing FSDs to ITV plc and four related entities in March 2020. We are assessing it and will respond to the company."
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