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UK roundup: Philips Pension Fund, Prudential, TPR, PPF

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The Philips Pension Fund has conducted a second buy-in almost a year after it first began insuring its pensioner members.

The fund has completed a £300m (€379m) insurance buy-in for its pensioner members, with Prudential, the UK insurer, taking on the liability.

In August 2013, the fund completed a similar £480m buy-in with Rothesay Life, a specialist pension insurer.

The risk-transfer market has been in full-swing during 2014, with the level of insurance buyouts and buy-ins, along with longevity hedging, expected to easily exceed records.

So far, the BT Pension Scheme transferred £16bn of longevity risk, and the ICI Pension Fund insured £3.6bn of liabilities with Legal & General and Prudential.

The fund’s chair of trustees, David Jordan, said the scheme benefited from being well prepared and having governance processes in place. 

“We have sought to balance our requirement for value-for-money with the insurers’ need for timing certainty,” he said.

In other news, the Pensions Regulator (TPR) has refreshed its campaign warning scheme trustees and members about the perils of pension liberation fraud, after announcing £495m of pensions savings had already been lost.

The scams relate to ‘pensions liberation’, where members are duped into withdrawing their pensions from the schemes to access cash.

However, the funds are often subjected to high tax charges and service charges, and the remainder often invested in “unusual investments”.

Pensions minister Steve Webb said the government was looking to “stamp out” these “unethical and exploitative” schemes.

Andrew Warwick-Thompson, executive director at TPR, added: “Pension scams remain prevalent and need to be stamped out. The only people who benefit financially from the arrangements are the scammers themselves.”

The campaign is being led by the Department for Work & Pensions, TPR, the Pensions Advisory Service, Money Advice Service, Financial Conduct Authority, Serious Fraud Office, HMRC, Action Fraud, National Crime Agency and City of London Police.

Lastly, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has responded to its consultation on the impact of changes to the definition of money purchase.

After a legal ruling, the UK government amended the definition of money purchase to include only pure defined contribution schemes that are nothing other than investment vehicles.

This has resulted in several schemes offering fringe benefits with DC schemes to be reclassified as defined benefit, thus undergoing PPF levy assessment.

The lifeboat fund has said schemes that see a material impact of greater than 10% must now complete an out of cycle s179 valuation to understand updated deficit positions.

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