UK - Trustees of oil company Shell's UK pension plan have agreed to stop taking company contributions for the time being.

The £12m (€17.3m) UK Shell pension plan will no longer receive contributions from the company as the scheme is now 132% funded.

"In view of the current surpluses, it has been agreed that member company contributions will be discontinued and kept under review," said Stephen Hodge, chairman of the Board of Shell Pensions Trust Limited, in the latest edition of "the Source", a newsletter from trustees to pension fund members.

"We can confirm that the Shell UK pension fund has agreed to a temporary reduction in company contributions to zero," a company spokesperson told IPE. "The fund remains in a very strong position and is heavily in surplus."

Prior to this agreement the fund had changed its investment strategy to decrease its equity exposure. In the second half of this year investment in bonds was increased to cut the equity portfolio from over 74% of total assets to 50%.

Furthermore the equity portfolio will be more geographically diversified, the fund noted. The modification was made "to reduce the extent to which the funding surplus moves up and down as financial market conditions change".

"For the moment though my feeling is that the fund is in a strong enough position to withstand most of the changes financial markets might bring us," Hodge pointed out.

He will be leaving in summer next year after 15 years on Shell's UK pension plan trustee board.

And following a governance review the board of trustees will be reduced from 18 members to 14 at the beginning of next year.

The Pensions Regulator commented "where there is such a high level of funding, which is regularly monitored, a contribution holiday may be appropriate," a spokeswoman said.

"However, we like to stress this is not suitable for schemes with any kind of deficit."