UK – Consultancy firm Watson Wyatt has lost a brief with the £1bn (€1.44bn) Durham County Council Superannuation Fund.

The municipality replaced Watson Wyatt with PSolve Asset Solutions and independent consultant Philip Williams following a retendering exercise, Stuart Crowe, treasurer at Durham County Council, told IPE.

Watson Wyatt confirmed the loss, a spokeswoman telling IPE that “Durham County Council retendered its investment consulting mandate and we were replaced.”

According to the International Pension Funds and their Advisors 2004 handbook the Durham County Council fund also employs Ives Associates as investment adviser, but it is not clear whether the firm has been retained as Crowe declined to comment further on the revamp and Andrew Ives was not available for comment.

PSolve Asset Solutions, a unit of the Sanlam Financial Services Ltd group which also includes the consulting actuaries firm Punter Southall, said in a statement that it will give investment advice to the scheme across all asset classes and liabilities, as well as a full review of its investment strategy.

Val Burdett-Callen, principal at PSolve, said: “The local authority market is one of our core target areas in the UK and we look forward to working with Durham to achieve its investment objectives.”

Last week Watson Wyatt & Co. said its shareholders had approved the issuance of around 11m shares in connection with its merger with European affiliate Watson Wyatt LLP.

Separately, the UK pension fund of US oil company Marathon Oil, has appointed Mercer Human Resources as third-party administrator.

David Payne, Marathon Oil’s compensation and benefit manager for UK employees, told IPE that the fund had outsourced the administration for lack of adequate in-house resources.

Mercer already provides actuarial and investment consulting services to the trustees of the final salary fund, which Payne said was worth about £75m. The firm is expected to take up the role of third-party administrator in September, he added.