UK - Engineering company IMI and automotive firm Inchcape have both appointed investment advisers to their respective pension schemes, while the UK scheme of Steinway & Sons has appointed an independent trustee firm.

Highland Council has appointed a firm to file claims on behalf of its pension fund to recover withholding tax on dividend income, while Thames Water has awarded an actuarial, benefits and investment consultancy contract, and the Readers Digest UK pension scheme has entered the PPF assessment period.

The almost £1bn (€1.14bn) IMI Pension Fund, which has around 19,000 members and more than 11,000 pensioners, has awarded KPMG an iinvestment advisory role.

KPMG will provide the trustee with advice on identifying new investment opportunities; assistance in strategic reviews focused on reducing risk, and ongoing monitoring of the existing investment strategy.

Inchcape Motors Pension Scheme (IMPS), which holds around £220m in assets, has appointed Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP) as its investment advisor

LCP will provide the scheme, which has almost 3,000 members, with strategic investment advice including recommendations on the range of investment options available. It will also work to reduce the governance burden for the scheme to enable trustees to monitor and the investment strategy more easily.

Elsewhere, Pitmans Trustees Limited (PTL) have been appointed as independent trustee to the Steinway & Sons Pension Scheme which belongs to the UK arm of the piano making firm. 

Philip Stowell, financial controller of Steinway & Sons UK, said Pitmans Trustees "brings a fantastic dynamic to our pension scheme." He continued: "Not only are they able to give us the help that we need to overcome conflicts that are occurring more and more frequently, but their wide experience means they are able to challenge all aspects of how the scheme is run for the ultimate benefit of our members."

Andrew Gaspar, director at PTL, noted there has been a significant shift in the pensions market where more organisations are starting to see the value in appointing an independent trustee to their pension scheme. 

He added: "Schemes struggle daily with governance, regulation and procedures and an independent trustee can give the support and guidance that is very much needed by many lay trustees."

Highland Council has awarded KPMG a contract to help recover withholding tax on behalf of its £628m local government pension scheme.

The council initiated a tender search in July 2009 for professional tax advisory services to help with filing claims for recovering withholding tax on EU/EEA source dividend income. It estimated the maximum potential tax credit recoverable for the fund is valued at £1.3m, with the potential for claims to be filed in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Austria, Denmark and Sweden. (See earlier IPE article: Highland scheme seeks advice for tax recovery)

Thames Water Utilities has appointed Mercer to provide actuarial, benefits and investment consultancy services to its pension scheme on a regular and ad hoc basis for various aspects of the pension arrangements.

Mercer's responsibilities to the fund will include, among other things, pensions accounting, risk analysis, scheme funding, advising on mitigating the PPF levy, governance and benefit design.

Meanwhile, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has confirmed the pension scheme of Readers Digest UK entered its assessment period on 9 April 2010.

The pension scheme, which has a £125m shortfall, entered the PPF on the same day the business and assets of the UK arm of Readers Digest was acquired by private equity firm Better Capital, rescuing the UK firm from administration.

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