Countrywide Farmers pension scheme agrees £100m bulk annuity deal with L&G

The Countrywide Farmers Retirement Benefits Scheme has agreed a £100m bulk annuity transaction with Legal & General (L&G), securing the benefits of 360 deferred members and 712 retirees.

The scheme had previously entered the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) assessment in March 2018 following the insolvency of Countrywide Farmers.

However, the scheme exited the PPF on November 2019 as it had sufficient assets to fund an equal level of compensation.

The trustees emphasised that this transaction has since allowed for even greater benefits to be secured through L&G than would have otherwise been provided by the PPF, “far higher than [the trustee] could have hoped for”.

The transaction also provides greater flexibility for additional benefits to be secured in the future, which was valuable as the trustee stated that it expects to receive additional recoveries from the ongoing insolvency proceedings.

L&G have previously supported pension schemes in securing benefits after exiting the PPF, including a £2..4bn transaction with the Nortel Networks UK Pension Plan in 2018.

Lane Clark and Peacock advised the trustee throughout the transaction, with legal advice provided by both Gowling WLG and Osborne Clark, whilst L&G received legal advice from Clifford Chance.

Commenting on the transaction, LCP partner, Richard Mills, stated: “We are delighted to have helped the trustee to deliver retirement certainty to members of the Countrywide Farmers scheme, following the insolvency of Countrywide Farmers plc.

“Working closely with L&G, we designed a structure to enable the trustee to secure terms upfront for benefits over PPF levels, with the ability to top up members’ benefits when further recoveries are received during the insolvency proceedings.

“The policy gives the trustee significant flexibility if the insolvency proceedings take time to resolve.”

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