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Eight English LGPS lead effort to create £35bn asset pool

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Eight English local authority funds have agreed to pool £35bn (€47.7bn) worth of pension assets, creating the largest asset pool confirmed to date.

The partnership, announced by the largest participating local government pension scheme (LGPS), the £11.5bn West Midlands Pension Fund, will aim to set up a multi-asset pool by April 2018, according to a statement.

“The collaboration,” the statement adds, “will aim to deliver cost savings and to build on the individual participating funds’ strong investment performance by providing scale, increased resilience, knowledge sharing and robust governance and decision-making arrangements.”

Five of the eight participants – the Cheshire Pension Fund, the Nottinghamshire Pension Fund, the Shropshire County Pension Fund, the Staffordshire Pension Fund and the Worcestershire County Council Pension Fund – were last month part of a joint procurement exercise that saw seven schemes award Legal & General Investment Management £6.5bn in mandates.

The Derbyshire County Council Pension Fund and the fund for employees of the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority will also join the asset pool.

The joint statement said individual funds would retain their separate identities, in line with the other pooling proposals announced to date, and that it would give each fund access to internal and external investment managers.

The West Midlands Pension Fund already runs more than 40% of its assets internally.

In its most recent annual report, it estimated that its current in-house team led to savings of nearly £25m a year, and said a new internal active global equity mandate would be in place by the end of the 2015-16 financial year.

At the end of March 2015, West Midlands had equity holdings worth £6.7bn, of which the passive UK and overseas holdings were managed internally.

The Midlands asset pool is the largest announced to date, followed by the London CIV.

Nine funds in the South West of England are also planning an asset pool worth more than £20bn, but only the Midlands venture and the London CIV so far comply with the £25bn target for pooling set by the Department for Communities and Local Government as part of its attempt to create scale among the 90 LGPS in England and Wales.

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