UK – Watson Wyatt partner and former National Association of Pension Funds chairman Alan Pickering has been named as a non-executive director of the new Pensions Regulator.

The Department of Work and Pensions announced the appointment of Pickering - along with Laurie Edmans, Chris Swinson, Caroline Thomson and Roger Walsom - in a statement today.

The appointments followed recommendations from David Norgrove, the chairman of the regulator.

"I am delighted to appoint the following people to be the first non-executive Board members of The Pensions Regulator,” said pensions minister Alan Johnson. The board will take up their new positions immediately. The regulator comes into existence in April.

Edmans is currently a member of the board at the regulator’s predecessor, the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority. Swinson is a former senior partner of BDO Stoy Hayward. Thomson works for the BBC and has been a trustee of the BBC pension scheme. Walsom is a partner at law firm Ashurst.

Elsewhere in the UK, Mercer Human Resource Consulting has estimated that pension scheme deficits for FTSE 350 companies have fallen from £73bn (€106.4bn) to £71bn over 2004.

It predicted that the deficit for all UK pension schemes is £128bn – and that the pension deficit represents less than 3% of market capitalisation at a typical company on the FTSE350.

The forecasts revealed that pension asset values rose by around £33bn in 2004, but scheme liabilities increased by a similar amount.