UK - Trustees of the Sainsbury pension fund have denied they is seeking an immediate pensions buyout in light of fresh Qatari interest in the company, but have said they may will look again at all of the options.

In a statement to IPE, trustees said they have made "no such decision" to transfer the final salary pension scheme's £4bn (€5bn) assets to a pensions insurance firm.

However, the group of trustees has confirmed it will "continue to periodically review investment strategy options and funding arrangements to ensure that the benefits earned by all members are properly funded and secured".

Talk of a potential pensions buyout has been sparked again by media reports and moves last week by the Qatari Investment Authority (QIA) to increase its shareholding in J Sainsbury plc, the listed company behind the high street supermarket chain, to over 25%.

QIA was involved in a bid with Delta Two last year to buy Sainsbury's for £10.5bn but the investment venture finally hit a blockade in November when it could not agree a deal with trustees of the pension fund to secure the future benefits for members. (See earlier IPE story: J Sainsbury goes it alone)

This was also the second attempt by a private equity operation to buy the high street chain, after CVC Capital failed earlier in 2007.

At that time, it was understood trustees of the pension fund were working with Penfida - known for their specialist consultancy support on pensions buyouts - to assess the implications of any takeover on the pension fund.

The final salary pension scheme has approximately 85,000 members.

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