Bakers, Hammonds and Herbies scoop Boots pension transfer

Baker & McKenzie, ­Hammonds and Herbert Smith have worked on a ­pensions deal that has seen Alliance Boots offload the liabilities on the smaller of its two pension schemes to insurer Pensions Insurance Corporation (PIC).

Under the terms of the deal the Alliance Unichem scheme’s £300m of ­liabilities have transferred to PIC, which will now take responsibility for paying out benefits to pensioners.

Alliance Boots, which had to make a payment of an undisclosed amount to PIC to boost the scheme’s ­funding shortfall, will wind up the empty shell once the deal completes.

In the first stage of the transaction PIC will issue a block annuity policy to the scheme’s trustees, who are being advised by ­Hammonds partner Clifford Sims.

Once PIC, which is being advised by Herbert Smith associate Samantha Brown, has carried out its own due diligence, a separate ­contract will be issued to each scheme member.

Alliance Boots, which is being advised by Bakers pensions head Robert West, closed the scheme to further accruals earlier this year, with its 3,000 members being transferred to a new defined contribution fund.

Alliance Boots has ­another, larger pension fund, the Boots Pension Scheme, which has around 67,000 members. Like the Alliance Unichem scheme, it currently runs at a deficit. The company is not thought to be considering a similar ­liability deal for that fund.

Such deals are becoming more common as employers look to move pension deficits off their ­balance sheets while ­continuing to guarantee pensions benefits to their employees.

In a similar transaction Barlow Lyde & Gilbert (BLG), LG and Norton Rose earlier this year advised on the transfer of £3bn of ­pension liabilities from BMW’s pension scheme to Abbey Life Assurance ­Company.

Under advice from BLG partner James Parker, Abbey Life insured the longevity risks of around 60,000 members of the BMW (UK) Operations Pension Scheme.

The scheme’s trustees were advised by LG ­pensions head Robert Smith, while BMW turned to partners Peter Ford and Dean Naumonwicz at ­Norton Rose.