UK – Retail group Marks & Spencer has reached an agreement with the company’s pension scheme trustees, setting up a 10-year funding plan for its defined benefit (DB) fund.

The agreement stipulates deficit reduction payments of £28m (€35m) per annum by the group from 2013-14 to 2016-17.

The new funding proposal sees the deficit reduction payments fall from £60m until 2017-18.

According to Marks & Spencer, the remaining shortfall is expected to be addressed through investment returns from the scheme’s existing assets.

The most recent valuation of the DB scheme, from 31 March, resulted in a deficit of £290m.

“This represents a substantial reduction in deficit from £1.3bn as at 31 March 2009,” the company said.

“The improvement reflects the additional contributions made to the pension scheme following the 2009 valuation, together with strong investment growth and sound risk management.”

In other news, construction group Interserve has entered into a conditional agreement with the trustee of the pension scheme to transfer its remaining interest in a portfolio of 19 PFI assets to the scheme.

The transfer of the PFI assets, valued at £55m, will provide a “significant” contribution towards the current pension scheme funding shortfall, as well as “crystallise” further value from Interserve’s PFI investment portfolio, the company said.

Interserve has completed two previous transactions in relation to its PFI portfolio, announced in June and October this year.

The three transactions will have raised £124.5m in cash and help reduce the actuarial deficit from £150m to £95m and reduce the annual deficit recovery payment from £23.2m to £12m per annum.

Lastly, LPEQ, the association of listed private equity companiesin the UK, has released an updated version of its guideline on investor reporting.

The report examines a number of criteria private equity fund managers should establish to help investors allocating capital to the asset class.

According to LPEQ, fund managers should clearly state their investment objective, policy and strategy, as well as cite their performance, trading data, valuation and gearing, investment activity and portfolio analysis.

They should also provide full disclosure of fees, delegations and conflicts.