UK – Rothesay Life has completed its first bulk annuity deal of the year, insuring £115m (€137m) on behalf of a pension fund of Vestey Group.

The family owned food distributer's Western United Group Pension Scheme only said it had partially insured member liabilities with the buy-in.

The statement did not say whether the deal, on which LCP advised the trustee, focused purely on liabilities associated with one part of the scheme's membership.

Ben Fowler, group head of reward at Vestey, said the buy-in was part of a long-term strategy by the company and trustees to secure member benefits.

"The buy-in executed with Rothesay Life has given us a secure, low-risk asset into which we could switch from our relatively highly valued UK Gilts, picking up other protections such as cover against longevity risk and pension increase risk for a portion of the scheme's liabilities," he said.

Addy Loudiadis, Rothesay's chief executive, said the transaction showed defined benefit funds how they could take advantage of their Gilt investments.

"Bulk annuity pricing remains attractive in relative terms because they have been less susceptible to the fall in interest rates than those schemes with a lower allocation to Gilts," she added.

Rothesay last year wrote more than £1bn in new policies, largely consisting of a £680m buy-in by the Merchant Navy Officers Pension Fund and a £230m bulk annuity deal with the General Motors UK Retirees Pension Plan.

Separately, Pension Insurance Corporation has completed a second buy-in with the Cookson Group pension plan, following a £320m deal in July last year.

The £30m buy-in will see benefits of those retiring over the next three years insured in tranches, with the first tranche covering all retirees within an 18-month window to the end of December 2013.

Chairman of the trustee Allan Course, who was advised by Aon Hewitt, said it was "very pleased" with the flexibility of the agreement, which PIC said mirrored a deal with the London Stock Exchange in 2011.

Finally, children's charity Barnardo's has announced its underfunded DB scheme will cease new accrual from the end of March.  

Head of finance Kevin Barnes said it was important for the charity to be "as prudent as possible" and that, in managing its pension deficit, it was "vital" to ensure its focus remained on providing services.

"Despite the increased risks faced by all defined benefit pension schemes, the pension deficit recovery plan agreed in 2009 continues to perform well, and we are currently on track to have resolved the deficit ahead of the target date," he said.

Over its most recent financial year, the charity paid £5.6m in deficit reduction payments, offset by an actuarial loss of £16.1m.

The Bernardo Staff Pension Scheme's deficit has risen from £63m at the end of March 2009 to nearly £84m three years later.

Former DB members will be offered membership in a defined contribution arrangement from 1 April onwards.