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Former TPR chair O'Higgins joins LPFA/Lancashire partnership

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The £10.5bn (€14.8bn) pooling vehicle set up by the London Pensions Fund Authority (LPFA) and Lancashire has hired former pensions regulator chairman Michael O’Higgins as its inaugural chair.

The London and Lancashire Pensions Partnership (LLPP), agreed by the local authority funds in July, also said David Borrow, the deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, and Skip McMullan, currently a board member for the LPFA, would join the venture’s board.

O’Higgins, who left the Pensions Regulator in 2014 after three years as its chairman, will now recruit a further three non-executive directors to join the board.

He said he was delighted to be involved in the “ambitious” pooling exercise, which he predicted would see a significant change to the public sector pensions system.

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“I applied for this role,” he said, “because I believe what Lancashire and London are doing with this partnership is exactly what should happen across local government – and, indeed, the wider pension sector – to help secure better benefits for members.”

O’Higgins has previously worked at PwC and PA Consulting, and is currently chairman of the NHS Federation and of the remuneration committee at Network Rail.

Jennifer Mein, Lancashire County Council leader, said it was moving ahead with the pooling vehicle as the industry awaited a government announcement on the future shape of local government pension schemes (LGPS).

“Michael’s vision and experience are welcome assets, which should give others confidence in the seriousness of our joint endeavour, as we work towards launching the new company in April 2016,” she said.

Merrick Cockell, newly appointed chairman of the LPFA, praised O’Higgins’s past roles across the public and private sector, as well as in academia.

“To have a person of Michael’s calibre chairing the partnership is a real testament to what we are trying to achieve,” he said. 

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne recently spoke of the need for consolidation among LGPS and has said he would like to see the creation of half a dozen asset pools, or “British wealth funds”.

As part of their efforts to pool assets, all other London local authority funds outside the LPFA have backed the launch of a London collective investment vehicle, while LGPS from the South West are coming together to create a £19bn asset pool.

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