UK roundup: Hounslow, Manifest, auto-enrolment, LCP, Britannia
UK - The £575m (€690m) local authority fund for London's Borough of Hounslow is tendering for a provider of proxy voting services.
A spokeswoman for the authority said the fund's current contract for voting services, provided by Manifest, was coming to an end and that the tender was simply a matter of course.
The scheme invests more than 60% of assets in equities, with its largest holdings including mining giant Rio Tinto, British American Tobacco, oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell and BP, and Vodafone.
"It is anticipated that approximately 200 events will be voted upon per annum, in equities based across the UK, Europe and the US," the local authority said in the tender.
The contract - which will run for three years, with the potential for a further two-year renewal - was estimated to be worth £200,000.
The scheme said its voting policy was based on best practice "arising from Cadbury, Greenbury, Hampel, Higgs and Smith Committees relating to corporate governance and corporate responsibility".
Interested parties have until 10 May to register interest with the council's procurement office.
Meanwhile, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched a consultation on changes to the auto-enrolment timetable that will see small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) given until 2017 to comply with legislation.
In the consultation, the department notes: "This new profile brings in 55% of workers eligible for automatic enrolment in this parliament, compared with 65%under the previous arrangements."
It added that the changes would allow for the Pensions Regulator (TPR) to "concentrate on maximising compliance of large employers during the early stages", with the staging period now extended to 2018.
"Medium-sized employers will be staged in smaller numbers, allowing pension providers and TPR to switch resources in the run-up to June 2015 to focus on educating and supporting smaller employers," the consultation said.
"This approach supports successful implementation of the reforms for large, medium and small employers."
Responses should be submitted by 4 May.
Finally, LCP has been appointed as actuarial adviser to the trustees of the Britannia Airways pension fund, the largest scheme within the TUI travel group.
Dave York, chairman of the trustees at the Britannia Airways Ltd Superannuation and Life Assurance Scheme, said: "The trustee directors were impressed with how LCP demonstrated their understanding of the issues facing the scheme coupled with their embracement of technology to model and reach solutions that will satisfy the ongoing needs of the Britannia Airways Scheme."
According to Tui's latest annual report, the average group contribution rate to the underfunded scheme is 5.4%, with additional contributions of £30.8m in total to address the deficit.
Around a third of the £31m comes from a Pension Funding Partnership agreed with the group's pension funds last year that see them receive royalties from Tui for the use of both the Thompson and First Choice travel brands.
The 15-year agreement is hoped to tackle the deficit, with a one-off payment of £275m due at the end of the contract to resolve any further deficit.