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Regulator tells ITV to put cash into pension scheme

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The Pensions Regulator has ordered ITV to provide support for the Box Clever pension scheme, which has a £62m deficit.

Box Clever was a joint venture set up in 2000 after the merger of the Granada and Thorn TV rental businesses.

It was set up to allow Granada and Thorn to extract the full value of the businesses in cash. Granada, which merged with Carlton Communications in 2004 to form ITV, received over £500m.

In 2003, Box Clever went into administration. It was sold in 2005 but the proceeds were not sufficient to meet the claims of the unsecured creditors, including the trustee of the pension scheme.

The trustee says ITV is responsible for paying the scheme’s deficit. ITV claims it has never participated in the Box Clever scheme and had no control over the deficit.

On December 21, The Pensions Regulator issued a financial support direction requiring ITV to put in place financial support for the Box Clever scheme. ITV is now appealing against the decision.

Box Clever Trustees chairman Alan Herbert says: “It was clear as soon as the administrative receivers were appointed in 2003 that the scheme would be in trouble. The trustee has been seeking ever since to have the founders, who received the best part of £1bn from Box Clever, make good the deficit for their former employees.”

An ITV spokesman says: “ITV is appealing against the ruling of the panel and will pursue this vigorously.”

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