UK – The government has announced that asset managers will be allowed to set up personal pension schemes from April 2007 following a consultation.

Asset managers welcomed the move towards a “level playing field”.

Economic Secretary Ivan Lewis announced the introduction late last week of a new FSA-regulated activity related to the operation of personal pension schemes.

The government will be amending the Financial Services and Markets Act (FSMA) Regulated Activities Order (2001) to include a new activity of ‘establishing, operating or winding up' a personal pension scheme.

“This will then become the basis on which persons are eligible under tax law to establish non-occupational registered pension schemes,” the Treasury said in a statement.

The decision followed a three-month consultation that closed in December 2005.

“Among those who responded, there was overwhelming support for changing the tax eligibility rules and introducing the new regulated activity.”

“We are pleased that the government has chosen to level the playing field and allow asset managers and fund platforms to establish pension schemes directly without setting up life company vehicles,” said Richard Saunders, chief executive of the Investment Management Association.

“While it is a shame that the new regulated activity will not be established when the “A-day” changes come into force in April 2006, this is definitely a case of better late than never.”

Meanwhile, the IMA has named Jarkko Syyrilä as head of European Affairs. He joins from the secretariat of the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR).

Previously he was responsible within the Finnish Financial Supervision Authority and the Finnish Ministry of Finance for, among other things, the negotiation and implementation of the UCITS Directive, the IMA said.

Elsewhere, drinks firm Diageo has agreed to a £100m injection into its UK pension fund.

It said: “Diageo has agreed framework funding principles with the trustees of the UK company pension scheme which provide for the company to fund the UK pension scheme deficit over a 7-year period beginning in the 2007 financial year.”