UK roundup: £41bn LGPS pool appoints third-party operator
A £41bn (€46.3bn) group of Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) has appointed Link Fund Solutions to run its pooled assets.
The ACCESS pool – made up of 11 LGPS funds – announced this morning it had named Link to set up an authorised contractual scheme, to be overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Link will set up a series of sub-funds to pool the 11 pension funds’ assets, in accordance with the government’s policy to encourage collaboration and efficiencies across the LGPS.
Councillor Andrew Reid, chairman of the ACCESS Joint Committee, said the appointment was “fundamental” to the pool’s approach.
Link’s contract is for five years with an option to extend for another two.
ACCESS is one of eight pools to be set up and the second to appoint Link, after the Wales Pension Partnership in January. Its 11 founding schemes are Cambridgeshire, East Sussex, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Suffolk, and West Sussex.
The pools must be up and running by the start of April.
GKN grants more pension promises as Melrose issues ultimatum
UK-listed engineering company GKN has made a series of funding promises to its pension scheme trustees as part of an attempt to fend off a hostile takeover bid.
Last week the company set out plans to demerge its aerospace and drivetrain subsidiaries and divert some of the proceeds towards its UK pension funds.
This morning Melrose – which has been attempting to buy GKN since the start of the year – submitted a final offer of £8.1bn for the company, which the GKN board said it was “evaluating”.
GKN last week announced an agreement with US firm Dana to spin off the GKN Driveline subsidiary into a joint venture with Dana. As part of the deal Dana would take on almost £1.4bn of global pension liabilities, including £533m from UK schemes. Dana also agreed a cash contribution of £124m.
Meanwhile, GKN said it would undertake a number of derisking measures for its remaining UK schemes, including an ‘enhanced transfer value’ exercise – which offers members an added incentive to transfer out of their defined benefit scheme – and a ‘pension increase exchange’, which grants a one-off uplift to annual payments in exchange for waiving future inflation-linked increases.
In a statement, the trustee board of GKN’s pension schemes said: “The Trustees believe that their agreement with GKN, which is subject to the offer by Melrose Industries lapsing or being withdrawn, provides appropriate mitigation to the schemes in relation to the proposed transaction with Dana and the proposed business disposals.”
However, in its revised offer this morning the Melrose board attacked GKN’s plans, claiming that GKN would have gross pension liabilities of more than 10 times its remaining profits after selling off parts of the company.
“We have already committed to make annual payments to the GKN pension schemes at a level greater than that which GKN pays into the schemes today, over and above the substantial voluntary cash contribution of £150m that we announced previously,” Melrose added.
GKN shareholders have until 29 March to decide whether to accept the offer.
Northern Ireland public scheme sets out divestment policy
The £7.7bn pension fund for public sector workers in Northern Ireland has said it would not divest from oil and gas companies for ethical reasons despite pressure from local campaign groups.
The Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC), which oversees the fund, said in a note to members that “wholesale disinvestment from companies extracting fossil fuels is not part of its strategy as this would mean that NILGOSC would lose its power to engage with the relevant companies”.
It added that exiting such investments would have “no effect” on carbon dioxide levels.
“Therefore [NILGOSC] proactively considers opportunities to invest in clean energy and is currently invested in, locally and globally, manufacturers of electric vehicles, wind power, solar power, hydropower, biomass, and energy conservation,” the note said.
It pointed out that the fund had signed up to a number of international measures such as the Carbon Disclosure Project and the 2014 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change, as well as engaging actively in shareholder resolutions related to environmental and sustainability issues.