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UK roundup: Henderson, Gartmore, Towers Watson, Waltham Forest

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  • UK roundup: Henderson, Gartmore, Towers Watson, Waltham Forest

UK - Henderson Group has seen its acquisition of Gartmore ratified by 99.97% of its shareholders.

At its annual general meeting, the overwhelming majority of Henderson stakeholders approved the deal, a day after a similar number of Gartmore shareholders, 98.95%, voted in favour of the deal.

Henderson's intention to buy the rival fund manager had long been rumoured, with the group officially announcing its plans in mid-January in a bid that valued Gartmore at £335m (€403m). However, the bid is now said to be worth £391m.

At the time of the initial announcement, Henderson chief executive Andrew Formica said of the bid: "Its recent travails should not overshadow the fact Gartmore is one of the best known firms in UK fund management, and its assets are performing well."

Meanwhile, a survey by Towers Watson has found that the majority of FTSE 100 companies offer new employees a defined contribution (DC) scheme only.

Of those still offering defined benefit, most opt for career-average, with only 1% of respondents still making final salary arrangements available to new workers.

Paul Macro, senior DC consultant at Towers Watson, said the results showed just how great the divide would be between private and public sector arrangements if recent recommendations in the Hutton Report on Public Sector Pensions - urging a move to career-average rather than DC - were implemented.

He added that, unlike in past years where contributions increased noticeably, the 12 months to the end of 2010 only saw an average 0.2 percentage point rise in combined payments from workers and employers.

Macro said DC plans and reviews in the field now recognised the need for higher contributions to allow for a "decent" level of retirement income.

"However," he added, "this growth now seems to have stopped, but at a level that is clearly much better for members than we saw just a few years ago, and still well short of the cost, for companies, of providing the vast majority of defined benefit plans."

The results come as part of the consultancy's FTSE 100 Defined Contribution Pension Scheme Survey, published by Watson Wyatt until the firms merger.

Finally, the London Borough of Waltham Forest's local government pension scheme is tendering for a new provider of actuarial and investment advice.

The six-year mandates have been put out to tender, as current arrangements with Mercer and JLT Benefit Solutions, formerly HSBC Actuaries and Consultants, have come to an end, the council said.

Benefit administration for the scheme is currently overseen by Capita Hartshead, with the mandate noting that any successful applicant for actuarial consultant will be expected to work closely with the provider.

It further noted that actuarial advisers will work closely with the newly appointed investment consultant as it seeks to conduct asset-liability reviews and other requested measures.

Applicants for either position must have indemnity insurance covering damage in excess of £5m and preferably have experience working with similar funds, having successfully won at least one such mandate in the past three years.

While the initial contract runs until the end of October 2017, both have the option of being renewed for a further three years by the council.

As of March last year, the £478m pension fund invested more than three-quarters of its assets in either global or UK equities, with a further 15% allocated to global fixed income.

Remaining assets were allocated to real estate, both in the UK and overseas.

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