UK - Associated British Ports, which operates 21 UK ports, has decided to continue its pension contribution holiday as well as revamp its investment arrangements.

"A full actuarial valuation of the group's main defined benefit pension scheme was completed in March," the company said this week. "This confirmed the group's FRS17 pension surplus at 34.4 million pounds (50.1 million euros), as reported at 31 December 2003."

"Consequently, the group will maintain its contribution holiday for the next three years."

Deputy group pensions manager T.J. Spriddell said the firm has had a surplus in its more than 400 million-pound scheme for over a decade. "In a nutshell the scheme is enjoying a surplus."

The firm was advised by Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow, who replaced Mercer Human Resource Consulting about a year ago.

Meanwhile, the scheme has undergone a rejig, which has seen Schroders awarded a 60 million-pound specialist UK equity mandate and Wellington an overseas equities brief worth 90 million pounds. Both are active mandates.

Around 40-50 million pounds are passively managed by Legal & General Investment Management, Spriddell said, adding the balance of the portfolio, around 200 million pounds, is in fixed income managed by Henderson Global Investors.

"We are delighted AB Ports has chosen to work with Schroders' Specialist UK equity team where they will benefit from our proven investment approach based on our ability to convert our extensive fundamental research capability into strong stock selection and excellent performance," said Edward Chamberlayne, Schroders' executive director of client service.

ABP added in its first-half earnings statement that it has adopted the FRS17 accounting standard in full during the first half of 2004, adding: "It has not affected cash flow."