Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, has finalised a £1bn (€979bn) bulk purchase annuity (BPA) covering around 13,000 members of the WH Smith Pension Trust, securing the benefits of all members of the trust.

Standard Life has bumped up its BPA activity in 2022 as part of its strategy to continue the expansion of its BPA proposition following a series of BPA transactions, including its £150m transaction covering 1,300 members of the Sappi UK Pension Scheme and its £1.8bn deal covering around 6,600 pensioner members of the Imperial Tobacco Pension Fund.

Standard Life’s latest transaction supports its commitment to sustainable investments, as the assets underlying the contract will be used to continue with a group-wide programme of investment into UK infrastructure and socially responsible projects that are vital to the UK’s growth and economic outlook. This includes areas such as renewable energy, infrastructure and affordable homes.

Jeremy Stone, WH Smith pension trustee chair, said: “This represents the fulfilment of a strategy that the trustee and corporate sponsor started out on nearly 20 years ago. Our joint focus on de-risking and improving funding eventually led to the point where we were in a position to transact with Standard Life to secure the benefits of all members.”

Rhian Littlewood, senior business development manager at Standard Life, said: “This is a significant deal for Standard Life and reinforces our ongoing commitment to the BPA market, supporting trustees with their de-risking requirements and helping ensure the security of members’ benefits.”

She noted that a “collaborative approach between Standard Life and the trust’s advisers enabled the transaction to be completed more quickly than expected – an excellent result for the trust and its 13,000 members.”

Littlewood added: “By successfully de-risking the trust, security has been provided for all its members who can be confident in the future of their benefits.”

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