UK - Wirral Borough Council has formally confirmed the appointment of Unigestion as a European equity manager for the £3.7bn (€4.2bn) Merseyside Pension Fund.

A contract award notice showed Unigestion, an independent asset management company chaired by Bernard Sabrier, had been awarded the mandate out of 36 tender offers on the basis of technical merits, quality and price.

Merseyside started the search for a European equities manager to run an estimated £135m mandate in June 2008, after the pensions committee agreed to increase the allocation of European equities to 10% of the total 29% overseas equity allocation. (See earlier IPE article: Merseyside tenders European equities mandate)

Although the four-year contract was officially awarded to Unigestion last week, IPE revealed in January that the fund manager had been selected by the pension committee but was awaiting the final due diligence checks. (See earlier IPE article: Merseyside awards equity roles and moves fixed income)

Under the terms of the contract Unigestion will be responsible for the management of a European Equity ex-UK portfolio, with a target to outperform the FT Developed Europe ex-UK index, net of withholding tax, by 3% a year, gross of fees, on a rolling three-year basis.

The confirmation of the new fund manager follows the appointment of four managers to run a third of its UK equity allocation, and the award of pension administration and payroll services to Heywood. (See earlier IPE article: Merseyside admin contract awarded to Heywood)

Meanwhile, the local authority pension fund has also initiated a search for two fixed income managers as part of a review of its unconstrained bond allocation, and is in the process of establishing a transition manager panel. (See earlier IPE articles: Merseyside reviews £320m unconstrained bonds and Merseyside tenders for transition manager panel)

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