UK leisure giant Bass is to transfer £1bn worth of pension fund assets to a new Bass Brewers scheme in August. The move follows the sale of its brewing arm to Belgium-based Interbrew last year.
The new plan will essentially replicate the same benefit structure as the existing Bass pension plan, a 60th defined benefit scheme.
The split affects over a third of the pension fund’s members - 20,000 out of 56,000 - who were transferred from the old plan to the new one in December last year. However, the £1bn assets will only be transferred later this year.
Bass director of pensions Trevor Jones said: “The new pension plan has got all the members in place but hasn’t yet got all the money. The assets will be transferred when our consulting actuary, William M Mercer agrees the appropriate amounts to be transferred.”
Bass completed the sale of its entire brewing business to Interbrew last August for £2.3bn.Jones said: “It was a strategic decision made by the group to focus on its hotels, pubs and restaurants businesses. We will reinvest the proceeds into these businesses. We saw the future growth in hotels and restaurants rather than in a low growth business like beer.
“But, because brewing was so much part of our heritage and because a very significant proportion of the pension plans related to the beer business, both present and past, we decided to transfer to a new Bass Brewers pension plan.”
Bass has transferred all those members who previously worked in the brewing business into the new Bass Brewers pension fund. Bass will continue to pay the pensions of the members until the assets are transferred, after which Interbrew will take over.
“We felt it was more appropriate for people who had worked in the brewing business in the past and were now pensioners, to be continued to be associated with the brewing business.”
The Bass name will stay with the brewing business - bought by Interbrew - whilst Bass will change its name to reflect its focus on the retail side of the business.
The asset allocation for the Bass pension fund stands at 24% in bonds 8% property and 68% in equities of which half is UK equities and other half non UK equities.
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