Cardano Group has agreed to acquire 100% of workplace pension provider Now Pensions with just over six weeks to go until the master trust authorisation deadline.
The acquisition is expected to complete later in 2019 following Now Pensions' authorisation by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) as part of the ongoing master trust authorisation process.
Now Pensions has said it anticipates transferring its investment management mandate from Now Pensions Investments in Denmark to Cardano's UK-based fund management team subject to completion of due diligence by the trustee.
The acquisition brings together Cardano's investment skills and experience in the defined benefit and defined contribution (DC) markets with Now Pensions' auto-enrolment platform and administration capabilities.
The combined business will create a full-service platform for growth as the UK's workplace pensions market gathers momentum and DC solutions develop in multi-employer master trust environments.
Following completion of the acquisition, Cardano will manage over £25bn of assets and employ 350 people across its core markets of the UK and the Netherlands.
The acquisition is Cardano's second in the UK following the acquisition of covenant advisory specialist Lincoln Pensions in October 2016.
Now Pensions chair of the trustee Nigel Waterson said: "The trustee directors are delighted that Now Pensions has found a new home with Cardano.
"This is an exciting time in the development of Now Pensions. As well as gaining access to their expert investment team, our members will benefit from Cardano's wealth of experience in technology and aligned commitment to good governance. We are working closely with ATP and Cardano to ensure a smooth and safe transition for our members. The future is bright for Now Pensions and our members."
Now Pensions chief executive Troy Clutterbuck added: "In Cardano we have found a like-minded organisation, with a long-term commitment to the UK pensions market that offers a great fit with our business. Workplace pensions in the UK are gathering greater momentum as the auto-enrolment regime matures. Being part of the Cardano Group will bring significant benefits for our clients and members, giving us a fantastic platform to reach our full potential."
Cardano co-chief executives Theo Kocken and Michaël De Lathauwer noted that bringing Now Pensions and Cardano together is "transformational" for this group.
"It is an investment in the future of UK pensions, enabling us to grow and diversify our client base. We believe our combination of pensions risk management and investment skills, together with Now Pensions' enormous potential creates a ‘new force' across the UK pensions landscape."
Just eight master trusts have so far applied to the regulator for authorisation, although the names of two master trusts that have sent off applications are not yet publically known.
Consolidation among master trusts continues to grow. So far, Smart Pension absorbed more than 6,500 members from the Corporate Pensions Trust last month.
Furthermore, Crystal Trust took on members from The Open Pension Trust in December last year, bringing Evolve Pension's total membership to 85,000. Salvus Master Trust consolidated the £7m Complete Master Trust, while The People's Pension took on members from Your Workplace Pension.