UK - Royal Mail will close its pension scheme to new members in a bid to reduce an annual servicing bill of £730m (€1.1bn).

The scheme is the second largest single-sponsor plan in the country, with assets worth more than £23bn. But it also has the largest single deficit of £6.6bn.

The Pensions Regulator has made it clear that it would like to see occupational pension deficits disappear within ten years.

Royal Mail, however, expects to take 17 years to pay down the debt. The government has loaned the company £1.2bn to modernise business operations.

The company is facing increasing competition from rival logistics operators: from a previous monopoly in the UK, it still delivers more than 85% of parcels and packages but that figure is diminishing.

The final salary scheme will be replaced by a defined contribution arrangement. At present, the two major schemes have circa 170,000 active members in total, 100,000 deferreds and 172,000 pensioners.