UK - The Bedfordshire-based construction company Kier group has confirmed it is not thinking of selling its £540m (€774m) pension fund to a specialist buyer.

IPE has learned, contrary to media reports published last week, there are no plans to sell the pension fund.

"Kier, like many other companies, has considered various options over the past 10 years but we are not considering selling our pension fund to a specialist buyer," said the firm in a statement.

The company added: "To clarify, as with many other pension funds, the trustees are continually reviewing our investment policy to improve members' security.  As part of this process, one aspect we have considered is investment to provide additional protection now that life expectancy is longer."

News comes as music firm EMI's new private equity owner Terra Firma is rumoured to be toying with the idea a buyout for the EMI pension fund.

Terra Firma, which called in the UK's pension regulator last week over a funding dispute with EMI's pension fund trustees, is said to be considering selling the EMI scheme once an agreement had been reached with the trustees.

A spokesman for the company declined to commenting, arguing Terra Firma is focusing on what appropriate funding would be for the scheme.

EMI's pension trustees are thought to be asking Terra Firma to pay £200m to make the scheme self-sufficient, though the spokesman said Terra Firma will not make any commitments in terms of putting more money into the fund: "On the basis that the fund has a surplus we don't see the need for additional contributions."

Should it head down the buyout route, Terra Firma would be part of growing number of firms considering pensions buyouts, according to the latest study on corporate pension funds being sold.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has published a survey, estimating over a quarter of the UK's largest companies are consider selling their pension schemes.

"Some 11% of employers are considering a sale in the next five years, and 16% over a longer period," said PwC.

Marc Hommel, a PwC partner, commented the "surge of interest" from employers for pension buyout is "being driven by a feeling of loss of control over pension scheme financing, fuelled by recent investment market volatility and, in some cases, overly-prudent scheme funding demands from trustees."

This survey of 193 companies, including 45 FTSE100 firms, also found a growing interest in the use of contingent assets, as a large number of companies are concerned about the prospects of ‘trapped' surpluses, said PwC.

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Carolyn Bandel on +44 20 7261 4622 or email