Whitbread pension scheme completes £680m buy-in with Standard Life

The Whitbread Group Pension Fund has completed a £680m buy-in with Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, securing retirement benefits for around 8,000 scheme members.

The transaction is the first bulk purchase annuity deal undertaken by the trustee and is expected to significantly reduce the risks associated with the underlying members’ benefits.

WTW acted as the lead adviser on the transaction, while legal advice was provided by Reed Smith. Whitbread was advised by LCP and Slaughter and May.

Whitbread pension trustees chair, Keith Jones, highlighted the buy-in as a “key stage” in the fund’s de-risking journey, emphasising that it will help to provide "greater certainty" to members about the security of their benefits.

Adding to this, Standard Life senior business development manager, Kieran Mistry, said: “It’s exciting to support the trustee in securing their first buy-in, taking risk off the table in a volatile economic environment.

"We thoroughly enjoyed working closely and collaboratively with the trustee and its advisers to secure this transaction. We look forward to partnering with the fund on its journey.

“For schemes who have not yet reached buyout, pensioner buy-ins continue to offer a fantastic opportunity to lock down risk over time, and form strategic partnerships with insurers along the way.”

WTW UK pensions transactions team director, Louise Nash, added: “The Whitbread Group Pension Fund was able to achieve very compelling pricing by moving quickly to take advantage of attractive market conditions and a highly competitive insurer landscape.

"We were very pleased to help the trustee to secure this transaction with Standard Life, working closely with the WTW scheme actuary and investment advisory teams.

"So far this year market volumes in the bulk annuity and longevity swap markets have been lower than many predicted, but underneath the surface the market is incredibly busy and the second half of the year looks set to see a significant volume of deals complete.”

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