Labelled one of the most important institutions in the pensions industry with £15bn of assets under management, the Pension Protection Fund yesterday (7 October) announced its new slimmed down legal panel, with Wragge & Co winning a first time appointment for the body as one of three core advisers.
International firms Clyde & Co and Dentons also won core advisory roles on the panel, which has shrunk from a total of 27 firms in 2007 to 23 following a comprehensive tendering process.
Ten firms including Addleshaw Goddard, Berwin Leighton Paisner and Bond Dickinson have been appointed to the PPF’s insolvency and corporate panel, which will be called on to advise where it ‘makes recoveries from insolvent employers and in particular on those occasions where there is consensual restructuring.’
In addition, 18 firms, including a number of those appointed to the insolvency panel as well as first-time appointees such as Ashurst and Herbert Smith Freehills, have won a place on a ‘specialist and reserve’ panel, to give added ‘strength and depth’ in specialist areas such as litigation and investment work.
However, the PPF anticipates that where possible the three core firms will provide it with the majority of its service requirements, the body said in a statement today.
Both Clydes and Dentons have worked for the PPF previously. Clyde & Co partner Mark Howard was previously seconded to the in-house legal team at the PPF, which included advising on legislation to establish the organisation, while Dentons has advised the organisation on IT procurement matters.
The organisation has also entered a sharing agreement with the Regulators’ Procurement Forum under which 12 separate regulatory bodies including the Postal Service Commission, the Office of the Rail Regulator, the OFT and the Civil Aviation Authority are allowed access to the PPF’s panel firms under terms agreed.
PPF director of strategy and legal affairs David Taylor said: ‘Legal issues pervade everything that we do – so it was important that we spent the time and resource making sure that we have the right firms to provide the right advice and support as we continue to grow and develop.
‘With the benefit of eight years’ experience we have a clearer idea of our medium-term legal needs and I am delighted that we have reshaped our panel accordingly.
‘The PPF now protects hundreds of thousands of pension scheme members, is increasingly involved in complex restructuring deals and litigation and manages an expanding asset portfolio which currently stands at around £15 billion. I look forward to working with all our panel firms on the many interesting and novel issues that continue to arise on a daily basis.’
The PPF added that, apart from technical expertise, the primary criteria for choosing firms was quality of service and value for money. The new three-year contracts have the potential to run for a further two years.
Wragge & Co human resources partner Paul Feathers said the win was ‘an excellent opportunity for [the firm] to work in partnership with one of the most important institutions in the pensions industry and to help the PPF continue to provide essential protection for members of defined benefit occupational pension schemes.’
The PPF panel in full:
The insolvency and corporate panel comprises: Addleshaw Goddard, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Bond Dickinson, Mayer Brown, Moon Beever, Nabarro, Osborne Clarke, Pitmans, Squire Sanders and Stephenson Harwood, as well as the three core panel firms Clyde & Co, Dentons and Wragge & Co.
The specialist and reserve panel comprises: Addleshaw Goddard, Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Bevan Brittan, Bond Dickinson, Burness Paull, Dundas & Wilson, Field Fisher Waterhouse, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Jones Day, Kingsley Napley, Mayer Brown, Nabarro, Osborne Clarke, Sacker & Partners, Squire Sanders and Stephenson Harwood.