Royal Mail appoints new chair of trustee, reviews strategy
UK - Royal Mail Pension Trustees, formerly responsible for one of the largest funded pension schemes in the UK, has appointed a former partner of Sackers as its new chair.
Joanna Matthews is to replace current chair Jane Newell in September, with Newell stepping down after eight eventful years that recently saw the Royal Mail Pension Plan (RMPP) transfer most of its liabilities and assets to the UK Treasury in an effort to relieve the company of its sizeable pension deficit.
Commenting on Matthews' appointment, Jon Millidge of Royal Mail Group said: "We are absolutely delighted to be appointing a chair with such comprehensive experience and expertise."
In addition to working at Sackers as a partner, Matthews is currently chair of trustees at the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme, Mirror Group Pension Scheme and the pension fund for UK employees of Siemens.
Millidge thanked Newell for her work in securing the "pension solution" that saw the European Commission earlier this year sign off on the transfer of liabilities to the UK government.
According to its most recent annual report for the 12 months to the end of March, RMPP transferred £27.5bn (€35bn) of assets to the government after the end of its financial year, with a further transfer due once an actuarial valuation has assessed the full size of the scheme's deficit.
Prior to the transfer, RMPP reported £30.6bn in assets under management, with close to 40% of assets held in index-linked bonds.
A further 17% was held in global investment-grade credit, with cash - at 15.7% - accounting for the third-largest share of assets.
Over the course of the year, the fund sold the entirety of its 4.1% holding in emerging market equity, and cut its real estate exposure by 1.2 percentage points.
Short-dated gilts, global unconstrained equity and high-yield bonds all saw slight reductions in allocation over the same period.
The annual report noted that the changes in investment strategy came in advance of the asset transfer to the government, with the liquidated portfolios held in cash - accounting for the nearly 10-percentage-point increase in cash holdings over the year.
The fund also announced a review of its investment strategy, stating that the schemes responsible for the Royal Mail Group and Post Office Limited, owners of the stores, would in future be administered separately.
"Actuarial valuations will be undertaken in respect of each section as at 31 March 2012, and the trustee will seek to agree separate funding arrangements with the two employers," the report said.
"As part of this exercise, the trustee will be undertaking a full investment strategy review in respect of both sections."