The UK’s Imperial Tobacco Pension Fund, which is sponsored by Imperial Brands Plc, has completed a £1.8bn (€2.2bn) bulk purchase annuity (BPA) transaction with Standard Life.

The deal, which covers around 6,600 pensioner members, is part of the continued development and growth of Standard Life’s offering within the BPA space, which has seen it quote on approximately 90% of deals in the market by volume over the course of 2021.

Hymans Robertson acted as lead adviser to the trustee for the transaction – the first bulk annuity arrangement completed by the fund.

The trustees received funding and investment advice from Willis Towers Watson and Isio, respectively.

Transaction legal advice was provided to the fund by Osborne Clarke and CMS, whilst Eversheds Sutherland advised Standard Life.

Helen Clatworthy, trustee chair, said: “This buy-in is a major step in the fund’s de-risking strategy and significantly improves the security of members’ benefits.”

Justin Grainger, managing director of defined benefit solutions at Standard Life, said: “This transaction helps the trustee by protecting the members of the fund and reducing the risks associated with holding pension scheme liabilities.”

Société Générale moves scheme to Aegon master trust

Société Générale has moved its UK trust-based defined contribution (DC) pension scheme, which was managed in house, to the Aegon Master Trust.

The move covers 4,500 members and the bulk transfer of around £385m (€461m) of existing pension assets has been completed.

The asset transfer was undertaken in three tranches over a two-week period, with Isio as lead adviser in the process.

Graham Clark, head of benefits at Société Générale, said: “Pensions are an important component of employee remuneration and so at the heart of this process was our desire to make our employees’ pensions more accessible and interactive.”

He added: “One of the key aspects that attracted us to the Aegon Master Trust was the intuitive app and video summaries which allow employees to keep up to date with their savings. The changes have been well received and have helped put pensions front of mind among employees.”

Aegon managing director of workplace business Linda Whorlow said the firm has over the last few years investing heavily in its master trust proposition to deliver market leading personalised member engagement tools, along with financial education, guidance and advice services to help members on their journey towards retirement.

Standard Life to shift £15bn and 1.5m pension customers to sustainable strategy

Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, is set to make a series of changes to its largest default pension fund propositions to provide a mainly passive, lower-cost sustainable solution focused on growth and outcomes.

The move will cover over 1.5 million Standard Life pension customers primarily invested in its largest default funds – Active Plus and Passive Plus – and for members of its master trust schemes.

By the end of 2022 circa £15bn will be invested in the new sustainable strategies, Standard Life disclosed.

Standard Life’s Sustainable Multi Asset strategies aim to simultaneously help employers and trustees meet their member and regulatory needs, and pension customers achieve good outcomes, with robust, growth-focused sustainable solutions, at the right price, the firm announced.

With its sustainable multi-asset solutions, Standard Life is aiming to enhance returns over the long term by taking appropriate levels of risks earlier and optimising glidepaths to manage that risk, it added.

The new strategies will provide increased exposure to equities to target good customer outcomes and will be underpinned by ESG components of up to 80% plus within the asset class, depending on the strategy applied.

This approach, Standard Life said, will aim for pension fund growth by seeking out responsible investment opportunities combined with better stewardship while simultaneously screening operations that may counter growth prospects.

The first step to introducing the new solution was the launch of the Sustainable Multi Asset Universal Strategic Lifestyle Profile for ‘new clients’ at the end of 2020.

Standard Life signalled at that time its intention to extend the strategies to ‘existing clients’ as part of an ongoing commitment to embed responsible investment solutions into default portfolios, and to meet the evolving expectations of customers.

Gareth Trainor, head of investment solutions, said: “The enhancements we are making will look to achieve growth earlier in the investment process, with the balance of a suitable glidepath for pension scheme members to help them aim for the best possible outcome when they come to retire.”

Fishermen scheme completes buy-in deal with Legal & General

The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen Retirement Benefit Scheme has agreed a £12m (€14m) bulk annuity transaction with Legal & General Assurance Society Limited, securing the benefits of around 90 pension scheme members.

The scheme’s sponsor, the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, is a charity providing practical and financial support to both active and retired fishermen.

The announcement marks the scheme’s first pension risk transfer transaction, which was agreed in November 2021.

Legal & General is continuing to work closely with the trustees towards buyout.

The trustees worked with Legal & General on a sole insurer basis to enable the scheme to take advantage of favourable pricing in the market.

Broadstone Consultants & Actuaries Limited advised the trustees on the transaction.

Sir Jeremy de Halpert, chair of trustees, said: “Given the charitable status of the Mission, it was important that this deal represented good value to the scheme and the employer. This meant that the premium had to be competitive and that we were able to transact in a cost-effective manner.”

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