Trustees of West Ferry Printers Pension Scheme announce £130m buy-in deal with Norwich Union

The Trustees of the West Ferry Printers Pension Scheme today announced that they have agreed to secure the Scheme’s pensioner liabilities with Norwich Union.

Lane Clark & Peacock (LCP) were lead adviser to the Trustees on the transaction and legal advice was provided by Simmons & Simmons.

West Ferry Printers is a national newspaper printing company which includes Express Newspapers, the Financial Times, Sport Newspapers and a number of other publishing companies among its clients.

The transaction is the latest in a series of “pensioner buy-in” deals between trustees and insurance companies, where the trustees hold the insurance contract as an investment of the pension scheme.

Individual members’ benefits are unchanged and the 1,300 pensioners will remain as members of the Scheme.

However, the risks associated with paying benefits to current pensioners will be borne by Norwich Union rather than by the Scheme.

John Pannett, the Chairman of the Trustees, said

“This is a tremendous result for the Trustees and for the pension scheme members. The Trustees were keen to improve the security of members’ benefits whilst taking advantage of current competitive pricing in the buyout market, and the Company was fully supportive of the process.

“The Trustees and Scheme members now have the security that pensions currently in payment are provided by a household-name Financial Services Authority regulated insurance company backed by substantial capital.”

He added that: “LCP and Simmons & Simmons helped the Trustees complete the rigorous assessment necessary to select Norwich Union from the range of insurers competing for the business, and this process resulted in a price and terms that made this an attractive investment for the Trustees.”

LCP partner David Lane said:

“This latest transaction follows hot on the heels of the recent £1bn pensioner buy-in by the Cable & Wireless scheme and brings the total deals written this year to nearly £7bn.

“Pensioner buy-in prices continue to be attractive, and we are delighted to have helped the West Ferry Trustees secure highly favourable terms, utilising the considerable specialist experience that we have built up in this area.”

He added, “Over the past two years LCP have advised on nearly £3bn of completed deals. Whilst insurers are becoming increasingly selective about providing quotations, there is real demand from schemes who want to work with us to benefit from our credibility and proven track record.”

Simmons & Simmons partner Michael Wyman said:

“The security arrangements agreed with Norwich Union whilst legally complex add significantly to the members’ protection and we are very pleased to have assisted the trustees in agreeing such a satisfactory deal.”

Nick Johnson, Head of Defined Benefits Risk Management at Norwich Union, said:

“Norwich Union are delighted to have been chosen by the West Ferry Printers Pension Scheme trustees. The rigorous decision making process followed by the trustees demonstrates the importance placed on thorough due diligence in the selection of a partner to help the scheme trustees manage their ongoing pension scheme liabilities.”
 
He added:

“We believe that in making the decision, we believe the trustees recognised Norwich Union’s capability in writing annuity business, expertise in investment management, financial strength and commitment to building long term working relationships.

“This is a further example of educated trustees choosing Norwich Union as the leading provider for pensioner buy-ins and confirms that Norwich Union are committed to writing profitable business with quality partners in the bulk annuity market.”

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