UK retailer Boots Plc had no comment on newspaper reports that corporate finance head John Ralfe – the man responsible for the company pension fund’s move into a long bond portfolio – is to leave the company.
“I don’t comment on rumours about my colleagues,” said Boots’ spokesman Francis Thomas.
The UK press reported that Ralfe is to leave the company following clashes with finance director Howard Dodd. It was reported that Ralfe and Dodd had clashed over the adoption of the FRS17 accounting standard. Ralfe is known as a supporter of the standard, which provides a snapshot of a pension fund’s assets and liabilities.
Ralfe could not be contacted for comment. Last year the £2.3bn (E3.6bn) Boots pension fund surprised the industry by putting what Ralfe called “every last penny” into a long bond portfolio.
Ralfe told IPE in an interview earlier this year: “The fund has turned conventional pension fund wisdom on its head. The cult of the equity has been embedded in UK and US fund thinking for a generation.”
Boots was named joint leader in the second annual IPE awards in Amsterdam last month, with the judges praising its “outstanding courage and leadership” in moving its entire portfolio into bonds.
With the decline in the stock markets, Boots’ move into bonds is reported to have left the fund £700m (E1.01bn) better off.