UK - Retail giant Boots has inched one step closer in its plans to move part of its £2.5bn scheme back to equities, following the departure of group treasurer Michael Burning.
Burning – who was with the firm for 19 years – was the last remaining member of the corporate team which masterminded the wholesale move of Boots pension fund’s assets to bonds some 17 months ago.
The other key figures behind the move – former head of corporate finance John Ralfe and former finance director David Thompson – have both gone.
The development follows revelations that senior members of Boots had been in talks with fund managers over a move back to equities.
One industry analyst said that if the scheme wanted to remain fully invested in bonds, it was now down to the trustees as there would be “no one left” in the company to fight their cause.
Bunting was responsible for tax and treasury at Boots, and worked closely with Ralfe and Thompson on the pension scheme’s move to bonds in September 2001.
He also led the £300m share buy-back that resulted from the shift to bonds.
Burning will be replaced by Neil Henfrey, who is currently Fujitsu Services treasurer and based in Slough.
Any move from bonds to equities would be spearheaded by the firm’s new finance director Howard Dodd who joined the company in April last year after holding senior positions at both Novartis and Zeneca.
Neither Boots nor scheme chairman of trustees John Watson was available for comment.
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