BHS collapse: Ivy-owner Richard Caring may face MPs' questions over dividends from retailer

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Richard Caring, the tycoon behind The Ivy and Annabel’s restaurants, today faced scrutiny from MPs over the £93 million in dividends he got from BHS when he was a shareholder.

Caring, who owned 22.5% of the retailer in the early days of Sir Philip Green’s ownership, may be questioned by select committees over BHS and its collapse this week with a pension deficit of £571 million.

MPs on the business and work and pensions committees are poring over BHS’s accounts and plan to order all those involved — including Green, whose family took out £400 million from the chain — to appear before them for questioning over the company’s finances.

Former business secretary Vince Cable told the Standard there was a “strong case” for Caring to be called.

Caring’s lawyers, Carter-Ruck, pointed out that he was paid the dividends between 2001 and 2004, and that he sold his stake in 2006. They said the business traded profitably while he was a shareholder, and that two years after he sold his shares, the pension fund was in surplus.

Frank Field MP, chairman of the work and pensions committee, said: “Our focus is going to be on where the money went and to whom.”

Shadow business secretary Angela Eagle added: “All those who have taken massive amounts out of BHS in dividends need to justify their actions. If it was excessive and reckless, it must be paid back.”

However, Conservative MP Mark Field said an attempt to claw back money for the pension fund from Green and others who took cash out of BHS would deter buyers from attempting to rescue troubled businesses.

Retail tycoon Sir Tom Hunter also held a 5.3% stake, from which he earned £22 million in dividends.

Duff & Phelps were appointed administrators to BHS on Monday, with 11,000 jobs at risk. The stores continue to trade.

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April 30, 2016 |
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