Pensions Regulator reviews M&A guidance

The Pensions Regulator is updating its guidance on the use of its powers in regard to key events, such as an organisation’s merger or acquisition.

During these corporate events, where the security of the employer and the pension scheme could be at risk, the employer voluntarily approaches the Regulator to seek a clearance statement to the effect that it will not impose its anti-avoidance powers.

The main changes contained in the draft clearance guidance are designed to encourage a move away from a reliance on prescriptive tests in deciding which events should be considered for clearance to a more principles-based approach. This could result in an increasing number of employers having to consider applying for guidance.

However, Jane Beverley, senior technical consultant at actuarial firm Punter Southall, said she does not think the guidance will make much difference in practice. “Over the two years since the original guidance was created, I think what’s happened in practice has been evolving but the guidance hadn’t.” The Regulator is seeking comments on the draft guidance, which can be accessed until 2 November at www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/mediaCentre/pressReleases/pn07/pn07-13.aspx