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UK commercial DB consolidator 'superfund' loses CEO, financial backer [updated]

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Alan Rubenstein, the chief executive of the UK’s first commercial consolidator of defined benefit (DB) pension schemes, is leaving the company six months after its launched, with a financial backer also pulling out. 

Rubenstein was stepping down from his position as CEO and would be leaving the business after a “short transitional period”, The Pension SuperFund announced late on Friday evening.

Marc Hommel, who has been head of origination, would also be leaving the business, and private equity firm Warburg Pincus would “not continue investing in the business at this stage”, the company added.

IPE understands that the departures were due to differences of opinion over the future approach of the business.

Luke Webster, co-founder of the consolidator, has replaced Rubenstein as chief executive, a role he will carry out in addition to that as chief investment officer at the Greater London Authority.

The Pension SuperFund was launched in March with £500m (€558m) of capital commitments from Warburg Pincus and Disruptive Capital, the family office of Edi Truell, a long-term supporter of pension scheme consolidation in the UK through previous roles as co-founder of the Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC) and chair of the London Pension Fund Authority. 

The SuperFund was set up as a vehicle to absorb bulk transfers of UK DB pension assets and liabilities and consolidate them into one occupational pension scheme.

According to Friday’s statement from the company, Rubenstein and Hommel were stepping down after having brought it “to a position where it has gained strong market awareness and traction”.

Thanking Rubenstein, Hommel and Warburg Pincus, co-founder Truell said they parted “with a strong proposition, a significant pipeline and with The Pension SuperFund in a position where it is poised to see its first deal submitted to the Pension Regulator”.

The company said it would “imminently” be announcing its trustees and a range of senior appointments as “the business moves into the delivery and execution phase”.

Disruptive Capital Finance would be taking on the funding of the business on an ongoing basis, according to the statement, and Warburg Pincus retained the right to restart investing in the company.

In a recent interview in his capacity as CEO of the SuperFund, Rubenstein told IPE the company hoped to carry out a pension transfer by the end of this year.

Rubenstein – who led the £36bn Pension Protection Fund for nine years before leaving at the beginning of 2018 – also said its financial backers had indicated they would commit to more funding once the SuperFund had covered a first £5bn of pension liabilities.

Truell has been a long-time supporter of UK pension scheme consolidation, but his career trajectory has not been beset without controversy – the early aggressive approach of PIC led to a high profile rebuke by the Pensions Regulator in 2007, in which conflicts of interest in the approach of PIC in its takeover of Telent PLC and the residual £2.5bn in assets and liabilities of the former Marconi Corporation pension fund, were highlighted.

This article was updated with the information that Luke Webster has replaced Alan Rubenstein.

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