UK milk fund awards bonds to Axa

UK - The 275 million-pound (398 million-euro) Milk Pension Fund has diverted 33 million pounds from a gilts portfolio managed by Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, to fund a segregated UK fixed income mandate managed by AXA Investment Managers.

The defined benefit pension fund, part of the international bovine genetics company, Genus Plc, was aided by Aon Consulting. The pension fund investment committee selected AXA from a group of seven candidates. MLIM still retains fund assets.

The sterling investment grade mandate will be managed by AXA IM’s London based fixed income team, headed by Denis Gould.

Fixed income product specialist, Craig Hurt and institutional sales manager, John Martindale will be supporting Gould.

Joanna Munro, head of UK institutional and global consultant relations AXA IM said: “We are very pleased to have secured this mandate which is great recognition for our experienced fixed-income team.”

“In the current economic climate skilful active management of bonds is crucial to add value and we look forward to working with the Milk Pension Fund to meet their objectives.”

Philip Acton, chairman of the fund’s investment committee, added: “We were impressed by AXA IM’s expertise and track record in managing fixed income and look forward to working with them to help achieve our investment goals for the pension fund.”

In Its preliminary annual report, published in June, Genus said Milk Marque Ltd., the principal employer of the fund, has given notice of its intention to withdraw from the scheme.

“Negotiations are ongoing between the participating employers and the scheme trustees regarding the basis on which this withdrawal is to be effected,” the report says.

An official of the pension fund told IPE nothing had been decided yet.

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