Lawyers question Walker silence on pensions
UK - The Walker review on private equity should look more closely at the role and involvement of the pensions industry in private equity, according to law firm LG.
In response to this week's publication of the Walker Report on private equity, Adam Bushby, pensions partner at LG Legal, said private equity firms should be required to notify pension fund trustees of bids for sponsoring employers "at the earliest possible juncture".
Moreover, Bushby suggested it is "extraordinary" the report has almost left out pensions, given the "vocal representations on the importance of pension funds and fund trustees in the debate on public equity".
In Bushby's opinion, the omission all the more surprising as the Treasury Select Committee has recently widened its inquiry to look at effect of private equity transactions on pension funds.
"We certainly believe that at least some of the concerns expressed by unions and the public could be met by requiring private equity firms to notify pension fund trustees of bids for sponsoring employers at the earliest possible juncture. This would to enable them to make effective use of the limited powers currently available to them for the benefit of scheme members," he said.
Earlier this week, David Paterson, head of corporate governance at the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), welcomed the report, arguing the proposals would encourage an appropriate level of transparency, reporting to investors and improved performance reporting.
In an interview with IPE today, Paterson said he does not entirely agree with the comments, arguing the report is a good starting point, and he feels that Walker has incorporated the views of pension funds.
Moreover, "When any firm makes a bid for a listen company, there are set procedure for the take over panel for notification of that bid to the public, and obviously pension fund trustees are part of that public," said Paterson.
He added: "Of course they have a specific interesting because of their responsibilities for ensuring that the pension fund's interest are not damaged by the acquisition of a sponsoring employer, but that comes at a later stage, so I don't entirely agree with the comments."
The report, drawn up by City banker and former regulator (Sir) David Walker, was commissioned in March by private equity body the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA).
The report gives a set of guidelines and recommendations for disclosure in the sector.
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