UK - Northamptonshire County Council has signed Newton Investment Management to handle the £200m overseas equity mandate on behalf of the £1.1bn (€1.6bn) pension fund.

It is unclear whether Alliance Bernstein has lost its mandate to manage 17% of assets (£200m) in overseas equities or whether UBS has had its balanced managed mandate cut back from 45% of the pension fund's total holding - as described in the pension fund's November 2007 Statement of Investment Principles - as officials were only willing to confirm Newton has been appointed to look after a £200m holding.

Details of the pension fund's 2006-2007 annual accounts, published in July 2007, reveal equity investments totalled 69% of the funds holdings, split equally between UK and overseas, but the sector had underperformed the pension fund's benchmark in the year to March 31 2007.

Officials stressed at that time Martin Currie, managing a UK equity allocation, and UBS, looking after a balanced managed mandate, had underperformed, as had Alliance Bernstein, who was responsible for a specialist global equity mandate, over the 12 months, albeit there was greater concern at that stage about the returns delivered by Martin Currie and UBS.

The pension fund was advised in its search for an overseas manager by Mercer Investment Consulting, which is now itself under review by the local authority. (See earlier IPE story: Mercer under review at Northants)

Elsewhere, the £350m London Borough of Richmond upon Thames pension fund is tendering for passive managers to look after up to 50% of the fund in UK and overseas equity and fixed income.

Malcolm Smith, senior accountant at the local authority, told IPE the fund is seeking to shift most of its equity exposure to be "fully or near passive" in the future as officials conducted a review of the pension fund's risk appetite and decided it would be most appropriate to the scheme's needs.

A move of up to 50% of assets, or £175m, into passive management is unlikely to mean any further major changes, although it will affect the balanced managed fund assets currently held by Schroder, said Smith, and remaining assets are likely to be transferred at some point.

Decisions on the geographical direction of assets will made at the final stages, said Smith, but it is unlikely the fund will need to pursue an active currency overlay as such services are likely to be provided within the passive mandate.

The remaining assets of the fund are currently managed by Henderson under an enhanced index fund balanced managed mandate, according to a summary of fund management activities submitted to the local authority's investment committee on February 28 2008.

Firms interested in submitting tender applications must show they manage pooled passive UK equities of £5bn and passive assets in excess of £30bn.

Receipts of tender documents must also be filed by April 30.