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L&G backs ‘innovative’ buy-in for Hitachi UK pension scheme

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Data and technology company Hitachi Vantara has sealed a buy-in transaction for its UK defined benefit (DB) pension scheme with Legal & General (L&G).

The deal involved an “innovative approach”, the insurer said in a statement, taking into account defined contribution (DC) elements of the scheme.

Each member’s retirement benefit is based on the higher of their earnings-based DB pension or their accrued DC pension over their career with Hitachi Vantara. The buy-in was structured to maintain this arrangement, which L&G said would allow deferred members to “consider their options” prior to a full buyout.

The latest transaction – which was completed in the first half of 2019, according to L&G – was the third de-risking deal between the scheme and the insurer. L&G previously insured tranches of pensioner payments in 2012 and 2013, while this year’s agreement covered the remaining 120 pensioners and deferred members.

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Katherine Gilder, a transaction specialist at Willis Towers Watson, which advised the scheme’s trustees, said: “By completing multiple tranches of buy-in over the last seven years, the trustee has taken advantage of pricing opportunities in the market while also managing its residual assets to achieve the growth required to meet its long-term objective.

“Even with the innovative approach we developed to deal with the plan’s unusual non-pensioner benefits, the latest buy-in tranche was executed in short timescales highlighting the contractual efficiencies that can be achieved from multiple transactions with the same insurer.”

Frankie Borrell, a director in L&G’s pension risk transfer business, added: “The dual benefit dynamic presented some interesting challenges for the transaction, but all parties showed great focus on delivering an outcome that had members’ interests at the heart.”

The Hitachi Data Systems Retirement Benefits Plan had £49.3m (€53.3m) in DB assets as of 31 March 2018, according to Hitachi Vantara’s most recent accounts.

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