West Ferry Printers agrees pension buy-in

The pension benefits of 263 workers from West Ferry Printers have been protected after a £120 million buy-in deal was agreed between pension insurance firm Rothesay and Reach plc, the parent of the Scheme’s sponsor.

Reach is one of the biggest contract newspaper printer in the UK and the deal is the culmination of three months’ work, which included Rothesay collaborating with LCP to price the scheme benefits.

A transparent price mechanism was guaranteed over the Christmas and New Year period. This allowed the Trustee to move the assets into a portfolio which provided Reach with greater price certainty.

The transaction is unusual in that more than 90% of liabilities relate to deferred pensions, making the liabilities particularly long-dated.

Commenting on the deal, John Pannett, chair of the Trustee for West Ferry Printers Pension Scheme, said: “We are delighted to have secured the pension benefits for all members of our scheme, achieving our goal of providing members with long-term security.”

He added: “It is a testament to the expertise of our advisers and Rothesay’s ability to move quickly that we were able to meet the ambitious timetable required to achieve this outcome.”

The deal is the first for pensions insurance specialist Rothesay in 2021.

Sammy Cooper-Smith, head of business development at Rothesay, said: “The bulk annuity market performed well in 2020, despite the uncertainty and disruption caused by the pandemic, and we see strong demand from schemes of all sizes to finalise de-risking plans in 2021.”

Laura Davies, partner at LCP, added: “There continues to be attractive pricing opportunities for long-dated liabilities. Many schemes are realising that they are closer to full insurance than they thought. We expect to see more schemes taking advantage of this in 2021.”

The transaction was led by LCP, acting for the Scheme, with Simmons and Simmons providing legal advice. Willis Towers Watson advised Reach plc. Legal advice to Rothesay was provided by Travers Smith.