UK – Partha Dasgupta, investment and finance chief of the Pension Protection Fund, has been appointed chief executive officer of the government pensions lifeboat following an “open competition”.

Dasgupta, 37, takes over from former CEO Myra Kinghorn, who left in May. The former Barclays Global Investors fixed income managing director for Europe will take up the three-year post on June 22.

According to a PPF spokesperson, there was an “enormous response” for the position. A long candidate list was cut to a shortlist of three before Dasgupta was appointed to the position.

As new CEO, Dasgupta is looking to “drive innovation” at the PPF – just one of three key themes going forward, said the spokesperson. The other themes are communication and delivery.

“Communication has always been important to the PPF. In terms of delivery, we are moving into a new stage of our evolution. When Myra was here, it was all about the set-up, getting the organization set up and that’s what Myra’s skills and expertise were.

“We are now moving into an era of operational delivery, where we are going to start paying our first compensation payments.”

Dasgupta joined the PPF in January 2005 as finance director and executive board member. Over the past year, he has led the development of the risk-based levy, and has overseen the investments, finances and levy arrangements of the PPF.

Until a new finance chief is appointed later this year, Dasgupta will continue to oversee this department in addition to his CEO role.

Speaking yesterday in his new CEO capacity, he outlined the evolution of the risk-based levy. One of the areas where he sees the risk-based levy evolving is in the use of contingent assets, said the PPF.

While the Fund is not taking credit default swaps into consideration for the 2006/2007 risk-based levy, “it’s something we want to look at in future”, said the spokesperson adding that the PPF is in discussions with the International Swaps and Derivatives Association.

Dasgupta will earn a roughly £500,000 pay cheque for the three-year contract, according to terms outlined in the job advert in April. This includes a “base” salary in the region of £150,000 per year plus a performance-related bonus of up to 10%.

In other news, more than half the schemes in a Hewitt Associates survey on the practical impact of the PPF and the risk-based levy calculation believe the Dun & Bradstreet failure score is “the biggest issue” facing the PPF.

According to the majority of the 35 defined benefit schemes (with assets of more than £35bn) surveyed, the risk-based levy system has fulfilled its objective of increasing pension scheme funding.

Also today, Hymans Robertson stated that there is too much emphasis by trustee bodies on the Pension Regulator’s triggers.

According to Hymans partner Martin Potter, “There is a danger of spending to much time worrying about what the Regulator might say or do when actually the responsibility for decision-making about pension scheme funding rests with trustees.”