UK - The UK defined benefit (DB) pension fund of Thales, the electronics and systems group, has appointed Xafinity Paymaster to provide administration services to its scheme following a consolidation process.

Xafinity Paymaster was awarded the contract after trustees of the scheme, which is now based on career average earnings, decided to consolidate the administration from several providers to just one while at the same time improving the level of access for its members through the internet.

Thales' UK pension fund has around 20,000 members and at the end of December 2007 the annual report for 2007 revealed a deficit in the UK DB scheme of €124m, although this is an improvement from the previous year following the switch to career average earnings.

The report claimed it benefited by €73.8m following the "renegotiation of certain pension plans in the UK. These changes, which concern working, retired and exited plan beneficiaries, will also have a positive impact in 2008, and will moreover decrease the current service cost of financial years as from 2008."

The choice of the new administration provider followed a competitive tender process in which Xafinity Paymaster was picked for its quality of service delivery and the provision of real-time information to trustees.

Philip Cameron, secretary to the trustees of Thales UK Pension Scheme, said: "By consolidating our pension administration arrangements into one contract and partnering with Xafinity Paymaster, we are confident that all of our members will benefit from enhanced levels of service and web functionality."

Earlier this year the UK pension fund confirmed it had appointed Cardano as its investment adviser, in an effort to boost its investment governance and performance and to benefit from pro-active investment ideas. (See earlier IPE article: £1.3bn Thales fund appoints Cardano)

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