Multinationals in bid to control trustees- Mercer

IRELAND - Multinational companies are trying to exert control over subsidiaries’ trustee boards according to a senior consultant at Mercer.

The trustee role is “an extremely difficult place to be,” said Tom Murphy, senior investment consultant at Mercer Investment Consulting in Ireland.

He saw “tension” between the various parties such as the sponsor, trustees, advisers and asset managers.

There is “a blurring of the roles”, according to Murphy.

“You are starting to see multinationals at the centre trying to exert control over various trustee boards,” he told a Dublin conference. “But ultimately, it all has to work for each trustee board.”

Murphy did not name any of the companies involved, but his comments come amid a greater focus on pan-European investments and new pooling vehicles.

At the same event, Gerry Ryan, chairman of the Irish Association of Pension Funds, called for trustees to have “a higher profile”.

“Often trustees are quite invisible and that’s a worry that has to be addressed,” he said.

But he was not in favour of remunerating trustees in case it led to competition for places.

Ryan also told delegates that investment consultants could have a role in setting the balance between trustees and employers: “Maybe that’s a fruitful field,” he said.

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