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Telent solution 'achievable', says PensCorp

UK - Pension buyout firm Pension Corporation expects a resolution with the UK's Pension Regulator (TPR) in its feud over Telent, following last week's unconditional offer for the telecoms firm.

In a response to the tPR's recent document, stating its reasons for appointing three independent trustees to the Telent pension scheme, a spokesman for Pension Corp. said: "We now believe that a resolution is achievable."

He added: "We've had a constructive dialogue over the last few weeks and plan to continue that dialogue with The Pensions Regulator and trustees over the coming weeks and months."

Earlier this month, Pension Corp. threatened to lapse its offer, unless the regulator removed the independent trustees it appointed to Telent's £3bn (€4.3bn) pension fund last month.

It is unclear what has changed to soften Pension Corp's stance in the matter, as the independent trustees have been appointed until April next year, with a view to preserving the independence of the plan's trustee.

Moreover, PensCorp founder Edmund Truell said in an interview last weekend the deal had been held up by the regulator's decision to appoint the three independent trustees to the scheme following fears from the fund's existing trustees that the company would dip into the pension fund's £500m escrow account.

Late last week, Chris Holden, chairman of the Stanhope Pension Trust Limited (SPT) to members of the GEC 1972 Plan, sent a letter to the fund's members, stating: "Although SPT has met with PC/CILP over the last few weeks it has learnt little with regard to their plans for the pension scheme."
 
When asked to comment on this claim PensCorp added: "Over the past few weeks, we've had a constructive dialogue with all parties, as a result of which there is a realistic prospect of a resolution of the issues."

The firm added: "We'll continue our dialogue with the TPR and trustees to ensure improved understanding both of our approach to best practice pension management and the long term probity of our business, and to ensure we understand the trustees' ongoing investment strategy. 

The firm said it plans to work with Telent's management to develop and implement a strategy for its operating business which will best safeguard the long-term interests of the business.

However, the spokesman added: "If an exit seems sensible down the track, we would of course, like any owner, look at that."

Tony Hobman, chief executive of The Pensions Regulator, told IPE the trustees have been appointed for six months and no changes are expected to be made.

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