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UK roundup: Pension Insurance Corporation, Pension Protection Fund

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The Freemantle Group Pension Plan has completed a £47m (€57m) buy-in insurance arrangement with Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC).

The deal covers liabilities for some pensioners and deferred members for the scheme, whose sponsor is known for popular British reality shows The X Factor and The Apprentice.

Chairwoman of the trustee board, Sarah Tingay, said PIC’s selection as insurer was based on its price and the offer of a structure that met the needs of the sponsor.

“A transaction of this nature is never easy to put together,” she said, “but, with advice from KPMG and a flexible and proactive attitude from PIC, we were able to secure our members’ benefits for the long term.”

The transaction adds to PIC’s written business in 2014. The company currently dominates the UK bulk annuity market, writing more than half of all business in 2013.

The trustee board and the sponsor, FreemantleMedia, were both advised by KPMG.

In other news, figures from the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) showed the aggregate deficit for 6,150 UK defined benefit (DB) schemes remained relatively stable over April.

However, the figures – calculated via s179, which estimates the deficit of schemes on a PPF-level benefits basis – officially show an increase in the deficit from £70bn to £112.3bn, after a change in the assumptions used in s179.

The fund recently reduced the effective yield used in the discount rate, and updated mortality assumptions, fuelling the deficit rise.

Over April, the schemes witnessed asset increases of £6.3bn, as the total level hit £1.15trn.

Liabilities increased by £48.7bn to £1.26trn, with deficit levels reaching £112.3bn.

The fund stressed that the rise in liabilities was purely down to the assumptions within s179, and that, when using the now outdated calculation, deficits only rose by £1bn.

Funding ratios among the 6,150 schemes averaged at 91.1%.

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