UK - North Yorkshire has issued a tender for a bond manager to run a £120m (€133m) portfolio, and Aggregate Industries has completed two insurance deals with PIC. Woolworths has also appointed Capita Hartshead to help with the PPF assessment and media firm CN Group has awarded a mandate for the provision of all pension services for its two defined benefit (DB) schemes.

• North Yorkshire has issued a formal tender for  a six-year contract to run an "actively managed bond portfolio", after IPE last month reported the council had been researching options for a 'plain vanilla' corporate bond mandate as an alternative to the existing and "relatively complex geared investment with ECM". (See earlier IPE article: UK roundup: North Yorks, PPF, PADA)

The tender notice confirmed the council is seeking managers for "one or more broad bond portfolios, currency hedged to sterling", which is valued at around £120m. North Yorkshire has also outlined a performance objective of outperforming an index such as the iBoxx Sterling Non-Gilt index by at least 0.5 % pa (net of fees) over rolling three-year periods.

The contract wil run for an initial period of six years, but carries three options to extend it by a further three years, subject to satisfactory performance. The closing date for the tender notice is 7 April 2010 and further information can be obtained from North Yorkshire Council.

Aggregate Industries Limited, a supplier of construction materials in the UK and Europe, has completed two insurance transactions with Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC) to transfer risk from its two largest defined benefit (DB) schemes.

The company, which was advised by Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP), confirmed the Aggregate Industries Pension Plan has bought a £210m insurance policy to meet all future payments for pensioners to 30 April 2009. Meanwhile, the Foster Yeoman Retirement Plan 2000 has purchased a £95m insurance policy, which will insure the benefits for all its members, with the company stating that it expects the plan to be wound-up "in due course".

Ian McGown, head of pensions and benefits at Aggregate Industries, said: "These transactions follow a wide-ranging review of the pension risks underwritten by Aggregate Industries and the options available to address them. We are extremely pleased to have completed two complex transactions simultaneously and in such a short period. The transactions bring further increased security to members' benefits for the long-term."
Michael Berg, partner at Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP), added: "Setting up a framework for monitoring de-risking opportunities allowed the schemes to move quickly once market conditions had improved, and to lock in to favourable pricing."

Trustees of the Woolworths Group Pension Scheme have appointed Capita Hartshead to guide the scheme through the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) Assessment process.

The transfer of the scheme and its 10,250 members will be aided by Capita Hartshead's specialist Discontinuance Service Team, which is currently helping around 100 schemes through the winding-up process. At least 40 are expected to enter the PPF, a further 40 are expected to enter the Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) and the remainder are targeted for buyout by insurance companies.

Capita Hartshead said it has also been separately retained by the PPF to pay compensation to qualifying schemes following the completion of the discontinuance process.

And elsewhere, CN Group has appointed Punter Southall to provide pension services to its two DB schemes that have combined assets of around £21m and 650 members.

Punter Southall is replacing Mercer in the role, and will deliver actuarial, administration, benefit consultancy, trustee secretarial, and investment consultancy to the schemes belonging the independent media business based in Carlisle, Cumbria.

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