Pension dispute as MIN floats

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The Independent Online
MEMBERS of the pension scheme at Midland Independent Newspapers Group, which is being floated on the stock market this week, have expressed concern about the pension contributions holiday that the company is taking in its first year after flotation.

The trustees of the scheme have recently been shown the latest actuary's report, which was requested ahead of the flotation. This has prompted one of the worker trustees to seek advice from the National Union of Journalists' pensions adviser, Colin Bourne.

Although the report says the scheme has an pounds 11m surplus on a continuing basis, it also suggests there would be a deficiency if the scheme was wound up. This problem could emerge if the group was taken over and a new owner decided to abandon the scheme.

There have been fears that a hostile party such as David Sullivan, the soft porn publisher, might be interested in building up a stake once the company is listed.

Mr Bourne said he had written to the company requesting more information. 'We are uneasy about the actuary's report and whether the contributions holiday is justified.'

Christopher Oakley, the company's chief executive, said Mr Bourne's concerns are not justified. 'The actuary's report shows that there are sufficient funds for the company not to make any further contributions for eight years. The actuary is independent of the company and is monitored by independent accountants and trustees.'

There has been strong demand for the 78 million shares in MIN. The advisers said yesterday that the offer had been seven times oversubscribed.