Northern Ireland

Welcome for Presbyterian Mutual Society rescue package

PMS nameplate
Image caption Thousands of PMS members have been unable to retrieve their savings

A rescue package to help investors with the failed Presbyterian Mutual Society has been welcomed former moderator Stafford Carson.

PMS savers have been guaranteed a minimum return of 77p in the pound if a proposed repayment scheme is accepted.

The scheme would see payouts of more than £232m by early July to the 10,000 creditors and members.

The society was placed in administration in November 2008 to allow time to find a solution preferable to liquidation.

The government has provided £225m and the Presbyterian Church £1m.

The administrator, Arthur Boyd, told savers that if the scheme was rejected, the offer of money from the government and the church would be withdrawn and the alternative would be liquidation of the society's assets.

Stafford Carson said he was confident that "people will say yes to this very, very good package".

"It's cast a shadow over the whole church, chiefly because many members had been very distressed and worried about their savings," he said.

"They were not sophisticated savers, they have been thrifty savers, not risk-taking investors.

"Many of them are elderly folk and they would just love to have their money back again, so there's the prospect here that their money will be returned to them by the month of July."

The estimated return from liquidation would be 72% to creditors and nothing to members.

There are insufficient funds to pay back everyone all they are owed.

The administrator said the proposed scheme should be accepted because it produces a better and quicker return to creditors and members than they could otherwise get.

Smaller savers with up to £20,000 in shares would receive at least 97% return on their shareholding.

Holders of loan certificates would be paid 100% of their outstanding debt but 15% of this would be deferred for up to ten years in order to fund payments to members.

Creditors and members have until Friday 6 May to return their voting forms.