30 June 2017
A multi-skilled team of experts (at international law firm Gowling WLG) led by partner, Davey Brennan, has assisted National Milk Records PLC (NMR) in successfully withdrawing from the Milk Pension Fund.
Current political uncertainty, as well as the post-Brexit environment due to set in further down the line, means that the ability to invest and more readily compete is more important than ever. Working in silos is no longer an option and for NMR, this deal is a clear indication of their commitment to this.
NMR Managing Director, Andy Warne said: "Withdrawal from the fund will facilitate growth and a renewed focus on our strongest revenue streams. Furthermore, it will give shareholders and potential investors in the company greater clarity as to the group's underlying performance, whilst freeing up valuable resources and management time. Ensuring that the organisation is 'opportunity-ready' is therefore at the heart of the move and one that signifies exciting times ahead as developing and enhancing the brand takes centre stage".
Handling such a complex transfer of funding responsibility and allocation required careful legislative and process-led steps to be taken in order to ensure effective withdrawal from the scheme. Gowling WLG's strength and depth across multiple practice areas saw professionals from corporate finance (David Brennan, Susan Johnston and Jade Macdonald), pensions (Peter Shave and Ben Long) and tax (Tom Rank), came together to deliver and complete the transaction.
The wider issues at play here are evident, with a Pensions Policy Institute note confirming that over 900 defined benefit schemes have been closed in the UK over the past five years. This is, in part, because bonds, the most common investment vehicle for these types of funds, have produced lower yields in recent years, raising questions over their long-term viability. NMR has been agile enough to recognise this as an opportunity and act accordingly, shoring up valuable business equity and a more secure future as a result - as the ability to predict it becomes ever more difficult.
Commenting on this, Davey Brennan said:
"The need for organisations to delve into the performance of their benefit schemes to determine their genuine value could not be more pressing. This is not only down to the performance dynamics outlined above but because a failure to recognise where internal investment is redundant can stifle activity, performance and ultimately, profit in other areas. We are absolutely delighted to have supported the NMR Board in delivering this fantastic deal for shareholders".