Biffa pension rights to be 'fully observed' under acquisition

Biffa Group staff pension rights will be "fully observed" under Bears Bidco's acquisition of the waste management company, with the Bidco board of directors stating that it "recognises the importance of upholding Biffa's pension obligations".

Bears Bidco and Biffa's board of directors have reached an agreement on the terms of a recommended cash offer for the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of Biffa, with each Biffa shareholder to receive 410 pence in cash per Biffa share.

As part of the acquisition, Bidco confirmed that, until 31 March 2024, it will maintain at least the same base pay, benefits, allowances and terms relating to pension accrual and/or contributions as in place immediately prior to the effective date.

In particular, Bidco stated that it has no plans to make any changes to the current funding arrangements for the pension schemes, including the level of employer contributions, the accrual of benefits for existing members and the admission of new members.

Biffa operates the Biffa Pension Scheme, a defined benefit (DB) pension scheme, which, at the last full actuarial valuation as at 21 March 2021, had a funding surplus of approximately £19.3m on technical provisions basis and a deficit of £106.8m on a buyout/solvency basis.

However, a funding update, prepared by the actuary to the Biffa DB Scheme, showed that the funding position had improved as at 14 September 2022, with the technical provisions surplus increasing to £29.3m, while the buyout/solvency deficit had decreased to £44m.

Bidco confirmed that it has engaged in "constructive discussions" with the trustee of the Biffa DB Scheme, and that it "looks forward to continuing a positive and supportive relationship with the trustee in the period prior to and following the effective date".

"Bidco recognises the importance of upholding Biffa's pension obligations and ensuring that all of Biffa's pension schemes, including the Biffa DB Scheme, are appropriately funded in accordance with statutory requirements and their governing documentation," it stated.

"Bidco does not intend to make any material changes to the terms and conditions of the pension schemes which Biffa operates and in which it participates."

Biffa also operates or participates in a number of defined contribution arrangements, three further defined benefit arrangements and a number of local government pension arrangements.

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