Getting Things Done with LawDeb in 2020
Our Governance Services include Independent Professional Pension Trusteeship; Pegasus, our Pensions Executive Service and Safecall, our whistleblowing business.
These Services give clients access to the know-how and resources to guide the decision making processes, evaluate or fine tune management and administration, and provide channels to detect issues early.
Pensions – Independent Professional Trusteeship
The pensions market’s move towards solutions such as consolidation and Professional Corporate Sole Trusteeship, as well as the desire by both sponsors and trustee boards to implement innovative and practical solutions, is evident in LawDeb’s recent appointments and projects.
- With Michael Chatterton as Chair, Premier Foods’ pension schemes announced a landmark agreement with their sponsor which will significantly improve the Group’s pension funding situation and capital structure. This transformational agreement is a segregated merger of all the Group’s pension schemes, which will place all the UK defined benefit schemes under one Trust. Benefits include the potential for a vastly improved funding position for these schemes and an opportunity to improve the security available to all the schemes involved.
- We have seen an increase in interest from private equity firms looking to manage the pension scheme liabilities of the UK schemes within their portfolios. A recent appointment sees Mike Jaffe represent LawDeb as trustee on one DB scheme and Alan Baker represent LawDeb as Professional Corporate Sole Trustee on two further DB schemes sponsored by this firm. This appointment opens up opportunities for the sponsor and trustee to discuss implementing efficiencies across the schemes.
- In April 2020 LawDeb was appointed to the L&G Mastertrust and IGC with Trustee Director Robert Thomas and LawDeb Pension Trustees’ Chairman Mark Ashworth representing the business respectively. The Mastertrust holds approaching £10 billion in assets on behalf of more than a million members and was one of the first Mastertrusts to receive authorisation from the Pensions Regulator (TPR) in 2019, a hugely interesting appointment for LawDeb.
- Represented by Trustee Director Anna Eagles, LawDeb was appointed to the Vanguard IGC in October 2020. The appointment of independent professional trustees highlights the sponsor’s full commitment to the highest standards of stewardship and governance. Vanguard head of Europe Sean Hagerty commented that Anna’s significant knowledge of the SIPP market is especially welcome.
Pegasus – Your Pensions Executive
What began as in-house support for the LawDeb Pension Trustee team has become a stand-alone business in high demand. LawDeb’s Pegasus team provides independent outsourced pensions executive services, including pensions management, scheme secretarial and specialist project support, to pension scheme trustees and corporates.
In 2020 the team has welcomed seven new joiners with more to come. The need for their services is driving this growth and Pegasus has taken on five new clients and a further 25 separate projects during the year.
The team has developed various frameworks and guidance to ensure schemes are operating efficiently. The recent Trustee Governance Health Check Service is an example of this. This sits alongside the Trustee Effectiveness Survey which is updated regularly to ensure it incorporates everything required from the ever-evolving role of the pension trustee. This interactive survey has proven a great tool to encourage trustee boards to self-evaluate in addition to heeding the guidance and support delivered by the Pegasus team.
Pegasus’ appointment as Scheme Secretary to the NAAFI Pension Fund is a clear example of clients seeing the capabilities the team has and identifying additional ways in which Pegasus can support them.
“We had been very impressed with the support we had received from Pegasus in the advisor selection process and invited them to present to us with a view to taking over the role of Scheme Secretary. A sub-committee of the Board interviewed Pegasus and made a recommendation to the Trustee Board in January that Pegasus should be appointed. This was duly agreed and again we are all delighted with the way the change has been accomplished.”
Tony Hales CBE (Chair), The Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes Pension Fund, June 2020
Safecall – Whistleblowing Services
Safecall is LawDeb’s Whistleblowing business. Our Whistleblowing Services help people raise unethical, unsafe or unlawful practices across their organisation.
In 2020 Safecall’s client base grew by 20% and now includes organisations such as Channel 4, Monzo, Moonpig, Westminster Council, Pukka Pies, the Co-op, Merlin Group and Red Tractor.
Safecall has delivered improvements to its client platform, such as providing clients with access to direct communication with whistleblowers and utilisation of new case management functionality. Combined with our eLearning courses, which both educate staff on the whistleblowing and complaints resolution processes and build confidence that the system works, these developments have led clients to tell us that they have seen an increasingly positive reception to the speak-up message within their organisations.
Safecall’s online investigations training launched in the summer with 70 organisations joining us across 14 courses. The workshop is essential for managers and practitioners to develop their knowledge and skills enabling them to scope, plan and conduct professional investigations. 2021 will see a much requested interview techniques course added to the roster.
Many enquiries to Safecall have been prompted by The EU Whistleblowing Directive.
On October 7th 2019 the Council of the EU formally adopted a set of principles intended to set a minimum standard of protection for whistleblowers across all EU member states. Member states have until December 2021 to adopt the new rules into their national legislation. Safecall has produced a whitepaper to support businesses in identifying and implementing appropriate measures – download your copy here
The EU Whistleblowing Directive marks an important point in the evolution of global Whistleblowing legislation and the continued recognition of the value of effective whistleblowing programmes to individuals, businesses and the economy. Unifying standards will help firms to put effective arrangements in place to prevent, discover and resolve employee misconduct and make workplaces safer, both physically and mentally.
We had been very impressed with the support we had received from Pegasus in the advisor selection process and invited them to present to us with a view to taking over the role of Scheme Secretary. A sub-committee of the Board interviewed Pegasus and made a recommendation to the Trustee Board in January that Pegasus should be appointed. This was duly agreed and again we are all delighted with the way the change has been accomplished.Tony Hales CBE (Chair), The Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes Pension Fund, June 2020
Our dedicated teams across Corporate Trusts; Corporate Services and Process Agent businesses can help support your major deals in a number of ways; facilitating innovative approaches, taking care of the details and managing risks to allow you to focus on what you do best.
Our experienced team can act as a sophisticated interface between borrowers, issuers and lenders, manage the day-to-day requirements of running your business or special purpose vehicle (SPV), and receive legal proceedings on your behalf.
LawDeb’s Corporate Trust team has continued to take on trustee roles for many longstanding clients this year. We have also been supporting client transactions with our Escrow Services, where we’ve most recently seen demand from the deeply COVID-19 affected events and hospitality sector and in addition the Pensions sector.
Some highlights of the year include being appointed trustee on the following:
- Vodafone Group Plc: hybrid issuance of NC6 EUR 1bn Capital Securities and NC10 EUR 1bn Capital Securities
- Legal & General Group Plc: £500,000,000 RTI issue. LawDeb’s relationship with L&G has spanned over 30 years, during which time we have also acted as trustee on a number of their standalone bond issues as well on their EMTN programme
- BP plc: issue of EUR 4.75bn and GBP 1.25bn hybrid bonds. LawDeb has a long standing relationship with BP, having acted as trustee on its debt issuance programme for many years
- Major G15 landlord L&Q launched its own £2.5bn Euro Medium-Term Note (EMTN) programme (LawDeb: Bond Trustee and Security Trustee).
Martin Watts, Director of Treasury at L&Q commented,
“The launch of our £2.5bn Euro Medium-Term Note (EMTN) programme was an exceptionally important project for us at L&Q. This is an important milestone and I would commend the LawDeb Corporate Trust team on their hard work and support. We look forward to further enhancing the strong foundations of the relationship that we have built to date with LawDeb and to working together for a long time to come.”
Our corporate services team supports fast-moving businesses in an ever-changing world, never has their dependability and ability to respond quickly been more valued by clients.
One of our landmark transactions during the year was our appointment to provide on going Company Secretarial support in a complex restructuring of a securitised property transaction involving 42 companies. As an unusually large transaction within the market this is an exciting appointment for LawDeb and one which the team is well equipped to manage.
We hosted our annual gin tasting event a little differently this year. Over Zoom guests and our corporate services and corporate trust teams were led through a tasting of various gins which we had delivered to attendees’ homes in advance. Thank you to all those who attended, it proved a very enjoyable evening.
Our Process Agent business has been busy serving clients in over 200 countries from our offices in London, New York, Hong Kong, Jersey, and Dublin. Our highly experienced team has a combined 100 years of experience in this space and supports English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese speakers.
We have developed simple to use appointment letters for each jurisdiction to allow hurdle-free appointments. For clients who would like more support we are available 24/5 by phone and email by using our global offices. This personal touch is a key reason that clients continue to choose LawDeb as their process agent.
Clients often trust us with long appointment periods and this year we have seen one such agreement see us in place until 2072. We are always grateful when clients show their confidence in us with such long-term commitments and we know we can be relied upon to deliver.
The launch of our £2.5bn Euro Medium-Term Note (EMTN) programme was an exceptionally important project for us at L&Q. This is an important milestone and I would commend the LawDeb Corporate Trust team on their hard work and support. We look forward to further enhancing the strong foundations of the relationship that we have built to date with LawDeb and to working together for a long time to come.Martin Watts, Director of Treasury at L&Q