THE Pensions Regulator has announced it is to use its powers for the first time to force a company to stump up cash to cover a shortfall in its UK staff pension schemes.
Sea Containers - the cash-strapped parent group of UK train operator GNER - is to be issued with the regulator’s first “financial support direction” under its anti-avoidance powers in what is being seen as a test case for the two-year old pensions regime.
It is understood the regulator could order the Bermuda-based company to pay more than £90m into the two pension schemes of its UK subsidiary, Sea Containers Services, if the direction is ignored.
The East Coast rail franchise is being re-let after operator GNER admitted it could not keep up with a £1.3bn payment promised to the Government.
Bidders comprise Arriva Trains, National Express Group, First Group and a partnership of Virgin, Stagecoach and GNER.