UK - Essex County Council is re-tendering the contract for investment consultants to its pension fund, while Strathclyde is tendering three property mandates.

Equitable Life has also appointed a new pension administrator while Telent has confirmed it is consulting on the closure of its controversial defined benefit (DB) scheme.

The £2.2bn (€2.4bn) Essex pension fund currently employs Hymans Robertson as investment consultants, however the county council is now re-tendering the contract for a period of seven years.

It is seeking a consultant to provide a full range of services, including advice on investment strategy, asset allocation, benchmark selection, investment management structure and any legislative issues impacting the fund.

The closing date for the tender is 21 December 2009 and further information can be obtained from the corporate procurement department at Essex council.

Glasgow City Council has issued a tender for three property managers to run mandates for its £8.4bn Strathclyde Pension Fund, following the conclusion of its triennial investment strategy review.

The pension fund, which recently appointed two new bond managers and approved a new strategic benchmark, is seeking managers for: a directly invested UK property mandate; a segregated UK fund of funds property mandate and a global mandate. (See earlier IPE article: Strathclyde completes strategy review)

Glasgow council revealed the directly-invested mandate is valued at between £600m and £1bn, and the other two mandates could be funded up to £400m each.

The closing date for tender submissions is 23 December 2009 and further information can be obtained from Hymans Robertson.

Meanwhile, Equitable Life has announced it has appointed HCL Insurance Business Services to provide the firm's pension administration, starting in March 2011.

The insurer currently employs Lloyds Banking Group for administrative services, and this arrangement will stay in place until the contract expires in 2011, and at which point the administration will transfer to HCL. The new company will then be responsible for the administration until the last policy ends in around 30 years' time.

Equitable Life said HCL was appointed on the basis of value, capability and service, with the deal expected to make savings of around £8m in the first full year of operation.

Elsewhere, Telent has revealed it is in consultation with trustees, employees and unions over the proposed closure of the GEC 1972 Plan - for former employees of GEC, Marconi and Telent - to future accrual.

In a statement outlining a new 15-year funding agreement between the company and the trustees - Stanhope Pension Trust - Telent said closing the scheme to existing members would "bring certainty to future pension costs".

Around 1,300 employees would be affected by the proposals to close the plan to future accrual from 5 April 2010, with the option for members to switch to a new DC scheme - the Telent 2010 Plan, form 6 April 2010.

Purchase of the Telent and its pension plans by Pensions Corporation - a pensions buyout firm - in 2007 caused some concern in the pensions industry about the future of the pension arrangements. The Pensions Regulator eventually stepped in to assist Stanhope and demanded three independent trustees be appointed by the company to ensure all parties concerned acted in the interests of pensions members. (See earlier IPE story: UK regulator appoints trustees to Telent scheme)

The consultation period will close on 22 February 2010.

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