City quartet guides brand-led TUI Travel pensions revamp

Herbert Smith, CMS Cameron McKenna, Linklaters and Stephenson Harwood all landed roles on TUI Travel’s cost-cutting pension schemes revamp.

The travel company has used the value of its Thomson and First Choice brands to help cut the cost of running the schemes. It is anticipated that the deal will save the company £38m a year.

The company sponsors six schemes – Air 2000, Britannia Airways, Jetsave, Orion, TUI Travel and Unijet. Under the terms of the deal the four smallest schemes have been merged into one, with the value of the company’s IP – the equivalent of a £275m cash injection – being used as an asset in the funds.
The arrangement is expected to produce £16.5m a year in royalty payments for the three schemes. In the event of a deficit in 2026 TUI will pay up to £275m to the schemes as an underpin.

Herbert Smith acted for TUI, with partners David Paterson on the corporate side and Roderick Morton on pensions. The firm also advised First Choice on its merger with TUI in 2007.

Pensions partner Mark Catchpole led the Stephenson Harwood team representing the trustees of the Unijet and Air 2000 schemes.

The team included senior pensions associate Amanda Banister, who advised the Pension Protection Fund on the restructuring of Uniq’s pension scheme earlier this year. She was joined by ­corporate associate Stephen Wylie.

The trustees of the TUI Travel and Jetsave schemes were advised by Camerons pensions partners Pete Coyne and Keith Webster.

Linklaters acted for the trustees of the Britannia Airways and Orion schemes, led by pensions partner Isabel France, who was assisted by Carol Jones, a counsel in the pensions team, and associate Philip Goss.

The deal was unusual in that TUI pledged brands rather than hard assets. This meant legal teams were deployed to advise on IP as well as pure pensions and corporate law, and added complexity because of the difficulty in assessing the value of soft assets such as brands.