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UK roundup: USS seals new Yorkshire Water inflation-linked swaps deal

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The £60bn (€67bn) Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) has invested in inflation-linked notes backed by Yorkshire Water inflation swap cash flows, its second such transaction.

The notes are issued by a special purpose vehicle, Aysgarth Finance, which was set up by Yorkshire Water and USS at the time of first transaction.

This was in 2015, when the pension fund for the higher education sector invested about £150m in a series of inflation-linked notes with a final maturity of 2063.

A spokeswoman for USS said the transaction announced today was a variation of the first deal.

The pension fund, the UK’s biggest, said it was not releasing the size of the deal, and it would not specify the maturity of the notes other than to say they had a duration of more than 25 years.

Commenting on the new deal, Ben Levenstein, head of private credit in the private markets group at USS Investment Management, said: “The investment generates high-quality, long-term, inflation-linked cashflows which closely align with USS’s investment strategy to ensure secure, long-term returns for the scheme and its members.”

Adrian Hunt, group treasurer for Yorkshire Water, said completion and execution of the transaction had been made straightforward on account of “[t]he expertise and professionalism that USS brought to bear to the transaction”.

The deal was important for Yorkshire Water in the run-up to an upcoming price review by the UK’s water regulator, Ofwat, according to Hunt.

The price review, which will cover the entire regulated water sector, will happen next year. In connection with this the regulator is introducing a change to how the utilities’ revenues and regulated assets are indexed, switching from the retail prices index (RPI) to the consumer prices index (CPI).

Universities and the staff union UCU are in mediated talks to resolve a dispute about plans to stop defined benefit accrual at USS. 

Local Pensions Partnership launches inaugural fixed income fund

The £13bn Local Pensions Partnership (LPP) has launched a £320m fixed income fund, its first asset-pooling vehicle dedicated to the asset class.

The fund will mainly invest in higher credit quality, highly liquid fixed income across geographies, instrument types and maturities. It will have a strong focus on capital preservation, according to a statement from LPP.

The fund allows LPP’s two “full-service clients”, the Lancashire County Pension Fund and the London Pensions Fund Authority, to pool their fixed income investments. A spokesman for LPP said the £320m represented the two pension funds’ strategic allocation to fixed income, which was currently at 2.5% but could go up to 5% and 15%, respectively.

It is the fourth fund that LPP has launched since it started operations in 2016.

It already runs a £1.3bn credit fund, a £1.5bn global infrastructure fund, a £1.8bn private equity structure, and a £5bn global equity fund.

Susan Martin, LPP’s chief executive, said the fund was provided “a significant new investment vehicle for our clients”.

“It also demonstrates our in-house investment capabilities in launching a brand new fund, from investment strategy design to manager sourcing and selection.”

LGPS Central tenders £2.5bn active equities mandate

LGPS Central, the company set up to manage £40bn of assets on behalf of nine UK public pension funds, is looking for global active equity managers to manage £2.5bn of investments.

It intends to shortlist between 10 and 15 managers. The estimated start date is 1 October.

Successful applicants will need to demonstrate a “consistent, robust, repeatable, investment process” with responsible investment at the heart of it, according to tender documentation.

Other requirements include “low, fully transparent costs” and a concentrated portfolio.

LGPS Central received regulatory approval in January and has plans to launch three equity sub-funds next month. 

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