UK Roundup: Pfizer Subsidiary Agrees £158m Buy-in Deal

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Specialist pension insurer Just Group has agreed a £158m (€179.8m) buy-in transaction with the pension fund of pharmaceutical company Wyeth Group, part of Pfizer.

The deal covered 1,200 pensioners, according to a statement from Just Group, and marked “a key step in the work of the scheme’s trustees in the long-term aim to de-risk the scheme’s liabilities”.

Rob Mechem, head of defined benefit business development at Just Group, said: “This is a well-funded scheme with a trustee board that was fully engaged in the details of every aspect of the process, and was very well prepared in terms of data cleansing and benefit specification.

“To ensure they had found the right home for the members’ benefits the trustees were very thorough and even undertook a site visit to review our administration capabilities.”

Debbie Berney, trustee of the Wyeth Group Pension and Life Assurance Scheme, added that the deal was “a big step forward in ensuring the scheme is able to meet the full costs of its future pension payments to all members”.

Apollo agrees to fund pension scheme to aid takeover bid

Private equity company Apollo has agreed a funding deal worth more than £50m with the trustees of the RPC Containers Pension Scheme.

It follows Apollo’s proposed £3.3bn purchase of RPC, a UK listed packaging company, last month.

In a notice to the stock exchange, RPC said Apollo had signed a memorandum of understanding to finance contributions of £5.2m a year for five years and nine months, increasing by 3% annually from April 2020. 

In addition, the parties had agreed to a £25m contingent assets deal, giving the scheme security over real estate assets. This will reduce to £12m from 2024.

In connection with the bid, Apollo has also agreed funding arrangements with two other schemes sponsored by RPC, announced last month.

JP Morgan takes stake in DC master trust 

Defined contribution (DC) master trust provider Smart Pension has secured an investment from US banking giant JP Morgan.

The minority equity stake formed part of a new funding round, which has so far raised roughly £50m as Smart Pension seeks to grow its business in the UK and other auto-enrolment markets.

As part of the deal, Anne Lester, global head of retirement solutions at JP Morgan Asset Management, will take a non-executive seat on Smart Pension’s board.

Lester said: “Smart Pension has demonstrated how financial technology can have a positive impact by making it easier both for people to save for retirement and for companies to offer pension plans to their employees.”

UK insurer Legal & General also owns a minority stake in Smart Pension, purchased in 2016. Last year the two providers agreed a partnership to develop a retirement income product.

In October, Smart Pension was awarded a mandate to develop a “pensions technology platform” for New Ireland Assurance, while last month it took over Corporate Pensions Trust, a £12.5m master trust run by financial advisory firm Lighthouse Group.

Will Wynne, Smart Pension co-founder and managing director, added that the company was in “early stage conversations” with other companies to provide technology to financial institutions as they “grapple with regulatory change and legacy technology”.