The Pension Protection Fund (PPF), the £38bn (€45bn) UK’s lifeboat fund for defined benefit pension schemes, has created a specialist panel that will provide transaction advice to schemes in PPF assessment that are overfunded on a PPF basis.

The new ”PPF+” panel will provide core services to such schemes including transaction adviser, scheme actuary and investment support, with a view to driving down timescales and costs in the longer term.

Pension schemes enter PPF assessment if their sponsoring employer becomes insolvent. If the scheme can be rescued or can afford to secure benefits at least equal to the pensions the PPF can pay, the scheme will either continue or wind-up without the PPF’s involvement. If not, the scheme members are transferred to the PPF.

The PPF isn’t able to give a figure for the number of currently PPF+ schemes in assessment, but a spokesperson said staff are in the process of embedding new ways of handling schemes that may exit assessment as overfunded, with a view to understanding their funding levels earlier. She said the new PPF+ advisory panel would “greatly support” this initiative. 

The PPF today also announced changes to its existing legal panel following an extensive procurement process.

For the first time, this included an emphasis on firms’ social values, with the PPF requiring all applicants to demonstrate the actions they are taking towards reducing the disability employment gap and tackling workforce inequality.

CMS and Addleshaw Goddard have been appointed alongside Gowling WLG, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells and Osborne Clarke, who were successful in retaining positions on the panel. Gowling WLG, Osborne Clarke and CMS have also been selected to provide specialist advice to schemes to schemes in PPF assessment.

“We are confident that we have secured a panel of firms that have the technical ability to cover any eventuality we may face, can provide the specialist services needed to drive our legal offering at the PPF and we look forward to working with them,” said Miriam Kimber, interim director of legal at the PPF.

“We are particularly proud to have included D&I [diversity and inclusion] values at the heart of this procurement process,” she continued. “We take social values and diversity and inclusion seriously at the PPF, so it was important to us that we appointed a panel that shares our aims.”

This article was updated with information from the PPF spokesperson in the fourth paragraph.

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