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UK roundup: TPR's Determinations Panel, FairPensions, BSkyB

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  • UK roundup: TPR's Determinations Panel, FairPensions, BSkyB

UK - The Pensions Regulator has announced a consultation on how a decision is reached to refer pension funds to its Determinations Panel.

The consultation will cover the issuance of warning notices by the case teams - which would see involved parties asked to respond to particular concerns - as well as which steps are followed prior to a case being referred to the Panel.

Stephen Soper, executive director for DB regulation, said: "We are committed to a clear and transparent process for the investigation of our cases. This procedure sets out what we expect of parties potentially subject to our powers, and what they can expect from us."

TPR has asked respondents to say if the case team currently provides "sufficient and clear" information on how it pursues cases, as well as how the case teams and the Panel interact.

The Panel is also consulting on changes to the procedure it follows to reach decisions, including the so-called special procedure that allows for determinations to be reached without informing the parties involved in advance.

The regulator said the special procedure was sometimes necessary when urgent action was retired to "protect the interests of members or pension scheme assets".

In this instance, the consultation asked if the Panel should be granted an express power to request further information, beyond what TPR deems its implicit power to solicit further information in oral hearings it currently can call.

John Scampion, chair of the Panel, noted that while it was a separate part of the regulator, it was not involved in any aspect of the investigation.

"The revisions to the procedure are largely based on experience of handling cases and using the procedure over the past six years, and they help to preserve the checks and balances, whilst bringing about a smooth transition in handing over conduct of a case from the regulator's case teams to the Panel," he said.

Both consultations will close at the end of June.

Meanwhile, lobby group FairPensions has reacted to the announcement that James Murdoch is to resign as chairman of satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

The group's director of engagement Louise Rouse said recent comments to a parliamentary committee by Murdoch had made his resignation "inevitable".

"Any suggestion that Mr Murdoch will remain as a director of BSkyB will likely be challenged by investors," she said.

"While people should have the opportunity to learn from their failings, it is a big ask of shareholders for him to expect that a FTSE 100 boardroom is the appropriate classroom."

In a statement, Murdoch said he had been "privileged" to serve as both chief executive and then chairman of the company, which News Corp last year unsuccessfully attempted to acquire.

He will, however, continue as non-executive director.

Referencing accusations of phone hacking that resulted in the closure of tabloid News of The World and the launch of an independent inquiry on press standards in the country, he added: "As attention continues to be paid to past events at News International, I am determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this company."

Company director Nicholas Ferguson, who was appointed in 2004, will succeed Murdoch, who previously resigned as chairman of News International.

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