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UK roundup: Wedgwood Museum, Rothesay Life, Prudential Retirement

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  • UK roundup: Wedgwood Museum, Rothesay Life, Prudential Retirement

UK - Wedgwood Museum in Stoke-on-Trent will likely be forced to comply with demands for a £134m (€160m) debt payment following the collapse of Waterford Wedgwood Potteries, with one of the creditors being the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

The case has already been unsuccessfully raised in the High Court, which ruled that the museum's collection of ceramics was an asset of the insolvent company, with members of the country's art community rallying support for the museum following its closure.

David Davison, head of Spence and Partners' charity and not-for-profit practice, recently argued that exempting charities from the 'last man standing' rule would "fundamentally change" the structure of schemes and put benefits at risk.

Answering a question on the topic in the House of Commons earlier this week, pensions minister Steve Webb ruled out any similar changes to exclude the museum from the PPF's purview.

"The DWP has considered these issues carefully and does not believe it would be appropriate to amend existing pensions legislation to remove the Wedgwood Museum from the ambit of the Pension Protection Fund," he said.

"To do so could have significant repercussions for the pensions protection regime and could have an impact on wider insolvency law."

Webb denied the PPF did not want to see the "unique collection" sold and was therefore working with administrators to agree the best way forward for all involved.

In other news, Rothesay Life has reinsured the longevity risk of last year's £830m buy-in deal with the former pension scheme of sandwich manufacturer Uniq.

The reinsurance deal, agreed with the Prudential Retirement, covers £423m worth of pension liabilities.

It is the second longevity reinsurance deal agreed between the two companies, with Prudential previously taking on longevity risk worth £100m.

Amy Kessler, Prudential's senior vice-president and head of longevity reinsurance, said: "We are happy to partner with Rothesay on another innovative pension risk transfer transaction that helps to secure the retirement benefits of Uniq's members."

Kessler was previously full of praise for the UK's role in promoting de-risking strategies, saying the country had "led the world" in the field.

She told delegates at the Longevity Seven conference in Frankfurt in September last year: "I'll ask you to please keep your eye on this list because, if all of these factors are aligned, then any defined benefit pension market anywhere in the world will move toward managing and transferring risk."

Last December's buy-in by the Uniq pension scheme brought to a close protracted funding negotiations that eventually saw the scheme become the company's majority shareholder, selling its stake in the sandwich manufacturer to Irish rival Greencore for £113m following the successful debt-for-equity swap.

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