A large number of institutional investors are suing Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket, for losses of around £150m (€173m) incurred because of accounting irregularities, which resulted in overstated earnings.
The overstatements were announced by the company in autumn 2014, prompting a £2bn plunge in its market capitalisation.
Alecta, BT Pension Scheme Trustees and Stichting Shell Pensioenfonds are among more than 100 institutional investors suing Tesco, according to newly published court papers.
The papers revealed that other claimants include Unipension Invest, the Church Commissioners for England and BAE Systems 2000 Pension Plan Trustees, besides a range of North American pension plans such as the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) and investment companies including Allianz Global Investors and Russell Investment Management.
The case has been filed in the High Court of Justice.
Sean Upson, partner at Stewarts Law, who is leading the case, said: “Tesco will need to set out its position in its defence, and we expect it to do so before the end of the year.
“At that point, it will become clear how much of the claim is disputed, and what the next steps in the legal process will be.”
In the other news, Legal & General (L&G) has sealed a £1.1bn (€1.3bn) buyout deal with the Vickers Group Pension Scheme, the biggest single pension risk transfer completed in 2016.
The Vickers pension – part of the Rolls-Royce Group – used a price-lock mechanism to secure a price before completing the transaction, which covers more than 11,000 pensioners.
Joel Griffin, head of pensions at Rolls-Royce, said: “This is a great testimony to the work of the trustees, their advisers and the company, which have worked collaboratively over many years to ensure this scheme is well funded with a prudent investment strategy. This has ultimately enabled us to deliver this excellent outcome for former Vickers employees.”
Griffin previously helped car manufacturer TRW Automotive complete a multi-faceted de-risking exercise in 2014. The £2.5bn deal covered UK, US, and Canadian pensioners, and was also backed by L&G. He joined Rolls-Royce 18 months ago.
In a statement announcing the deal, L&G said the transaction had been further helped by the group’s close relationship with Rolls-Royce.
L&G Investment Management runs more than £12bn for various Rolls-Royce Group pension schemes.
Phill Beach, head of core pension risk transfer at L&G, described the deal as “a significant transaction that demonstrates that, with strong company backing and a trustee that manages risk well, the objective of buyout is fully achievable, even when markets appear volatile.”
Lastly, MJ Hudson has acquired Allenbridge, a consultant to several UK corporate and local government pensions.
Allenbridge advises 18 LGPS clients with £36bn in assets under management, according to its website.
These include Devon, Dorset, Lancashire and Worcestershire pension funds.
Odi Lahav, chief executive at Allenbridge, said: “We are delighted to join MJ Hudson, a firm we’ve known for several years.
“MJ Hudson shares our core values and our vision for Allenbridge, and we’re confident merging our distinctive and complementary organisations will provide even better service for our clients.”
In a separate acquisition, MJ Hudson has also bought Tower Gate Capital, a provider of back-office services for asset managers.
MJ Hudson is a “specialist law and asset management services firm”.
Its chief executive, Matthew Hudson, said of the acquisitions: “Our goal is to build the pre-eminent advisory and infrastructure business in alternative assets.”