DWF and CMS have advised the Trustee of Federated Flexiplan No 1, an industry-wide charity pension scheme with over 200 employers, in relation to a £70m buy-in, progressing to buy-out in the next 12 months, with Aviva.
Entrust Pension Limited had set itself a target date of 2019 for securing members' benefits but successfully achieved this two years early having worked collaboratively with advisors and the employers’ consultative committee.
The DWF team advising on the plan and benefit matters was led by National Head of Pensions Tim Green with support from solicitor Jane Lathwood. The CMS team advising on contractual terms with Aviva was led by pensions partner Neil Smith with support from associate Thibault Jeakings. Entrust's team was headed by Founding Director Patrick Kennedy and supported by fellow Director Suresh Bhatt, who also co-chairs the non-associated multi-employer schemes lobbying group.
DWF National Head of Pensions Tim Green said: "Entrust has always been very clear about the flightpath to securing members' benefits. It is a testament to its stewardship of the plan and to the collaborative approach taken with advisors that the plan has bucked the trend of defined benefit pension deficits, enabling benefits to be secured in full."
Entrust Director Suresh Bhatt said: "Through good governance and implementation of innovative strategies developed with DWF, the rate of employer contributions paid on time improved dramatically from 82% when Tim and his team were appointed to close to 100%. This helped to improve funding levels, ensured fairness amongst employers and helped deliver this fantastic result for members."
Tim Green added: “This is a complex pension scheme which has brought with it a number of different challenges; the transaction has highlighted the importance and advantages of working with a highly experienced professional trustee and advisors to successfully achieve a common aim."
Against a backdrop of funding uncertainty for many charities, Entrust Founding Director Patrick Kennedy said: "Following Tata Steel and the BHS stories, final salary pension schemes have been getting a bad press. The Flexiplan story shows what can be achieved when Entrust are appointed. We take legacy defined benefit scheme issues away from the Finance Director so the sponsor can focus on growing the business in these challenging times. Our Flexiplan employers can now concentrate on funding hospices, medical research and housing and education projects in the knowledge that their hard working employees’ pension benefits are secure."
Neil Smith, Pensions Partner at CMS, said: “It was a joy to work on this transaction which successfully combined Entrust and DWF’s supreme knowledge of a highly complex pension scheme with CMS’ significant experience of negotiating and advising on buy-ins. The collaborative and professional approach of all parties ensured that this was a winning combination, producing a truly outstanding result for the scheme’s members.”