UK - Dumfries and Galloway Council pension fund have appointed two property managers, while Reading University is seeking a pension adviser.

Elsewhere, Merseyside pension fund has also appointed an independent property valuer while DSG International is planning to close its final salary scheme to future accrual.

The Scottish local authority of Dumfries and Galloway initiated a search for property managers for its pension fund in October 2008, offering a mandate of around £45m (€51.2m), or 10% of total assets, for a pooled UK and/or global property portfolio.

It has now appointed two new property managers on behalf of the scheme, which was valued at £355m in March 2009. Documents from the last pension fund investment committee meeting on 11 December 2009 show the council awarded the contract to Threadneedle and KBC Asset Management from a shortlist that also included BlackRock Investment Management and Schroder Property Investment Management.

The minutes from the meeting revealed the initial investment level is expected to be around £26m, to be split equally between the two managers. Meanwhile, a report on the pension fund's existing property investment with RREEF will be presented to the council at a future meeting.

The University of Reading is seeking advisers for its pension fund for non-academic staff.

In addition to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the university operates the University of Reading Employees' Pension Fund (UEPF). It is now offering a four-year advice contract on behalf of the scheme, which was valued at £81m in July 2009, with a £14m deficit.

The closing date for submissions is 11 February 2010.

Wirral Borough Council, which administers the £4.1bn Merseyside Pension Fund, has awarded a mandate for an independent property valuer for the scheme's direct property portfolio.

It has appointed Colliers CRE to an initial four-year contract with responsibility of providing the fund with regular valuations of the scheme's direct property assets, although there is the possibility for a further two-year extension.

And DSG International, the UK retail group with brands including Currys, Dixons and PC World, has announced plans to close its final salary scheme to future accrual.

The scheme, which closed to new members in 2002, had assets of £635.3m as of 17 October 2009 but an IAS19 accounting deficit of £291.7m. This is a significant increase from the £59.1m deficit recorded in October 2008, which DSG attributed to a reduction in the discount rate applied to liabilities in 2009.

So in an interim management statement published last week, the firm confirmed it is "entering into a period of consultation with its UK defined benefit (DB) pension scheme members to close the scheme to future accruals".

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