UK - Trustees of the Arnold Laver Pension Scheme have entered into a pension insurance buyout deal with Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC).
Arnold Laver is the leading independent timber merchant in the UK. Its scheme has liabilities of £43m and approximately 700 members.

PIC said the buyout was notable for the use of a deferred premium, representing a "significant portion" of the total premium.

The premium will be deferred over five years.

PIC said it would insure the full level of member benefits at the outset. 

It added that this reflected the structure of the deficit recovery contributions agreed by the trustees and sponsor after the previous valuation, which was designed to "make good" the pension deficit by 2015.

Nigel Petrie, chairman of trustees, said the scheme had been able to work with PIC to structure an insurance solution that brought safety and security to member benefits, but also worked within its existing recovery plan.

In other news, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) is considering a 20% reduction in its levy in what it calls its first response to the switch linking pension schemes to the consumer price index (CPI).

The PPF is proposing a levy totalling £600m for 20011-12, down by £120m.

Chief executive Alan Rubenstein said: "We concluded that, if the government CPI proposals were implemented, we could reduce the levy to £600m - a move that will benefit levy payers during what are difficult times economically, but still protect our own financial position."

Joanne Segars, chief executive at the National Association of Pension Funds, said the PPF deserved credit for its swift and decisive action in recognising the shift to CPI would reduce liabilities.

However, she warned that any changes to the levy should be examined carefully.

"We will need to look carefully at the impact of the proposed changes to the levy cap and scaling factor," she said.

"It is important schemes of all types feel some benefit."

Mike Smedley, pensions partner at KPMG, welcomed the proposed reduction, but claimed the PPF was not yet passing on all savings to pension schemes.

"It is understandable why the PPF wants to wait for the formal legislation to be passed, but it would help if they could indicate what the full saving might be in due course," he said.

Smedley said the PPF estimated a 0.5% drop in liabilities due to the shift to CPI, whereas sources such as the Government Actuary expect them to fall by as much as 0.75%.

He said he hoped this discrepancy, as well as the proposed drop by a third in pension scheme liabilities, would be addressed with the savings passed on to pension schemes.

Finally, the NAPF today came out in support of the Stewardship Code, saying it clearly set out the responsibilities of shareholders.

David Paterson, the organisation's head of corporate governance, said: "We expect pension funds to examine their investment managers' approach to compliance with the Code.

"They will then be in a position to revise their Statements of Investment Principles and over time incorporate an analysis of stewardship into their investment manager review processes."

The news comes only days after the announcement that the PPF had become a signatory.