Cardano has agreed to buy ATP’s UK Defined Contribution (DC) Master Trust Provider NOW: Pensions.
The transaction is contingent on NOW: Pensions approved by the UK Pension Commission (TPR) to continue working as an auto-enrolled corporate pension insurer. All UK DC master trusts must go through the new regulatory approval process by March 31st.
The deal is also subject to the NOW: Pensions Trust Committee, which approves the transfer of investments from ATP to Cardano. If approved, Cardano said the acquisition should close later this year.
Cardano’s escrow management team will take responsibility for the NOW: Pensions investment strategy, which is currently based on the ATP model.
Nigel Waterson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of NOW: Pensions, said, “This is an exciting time in the development of NOW: Pensions. Our members not only have access to their experienced investment team, but also benefit from Cardano’s wealth of technological experience and focused commitment to good governance.
“We work closely with ATP and Cardano to ensure a smooth and safe transition for our members. The future of NOW is bright: pensions and our members. “
In a joint statement, Cardano Co-CEOs Theo Kocken and Michaël De Lathauwer said the acquisition was “an investment in the future of UK pensions that will allow us to grow and diversify our customer base”.
“We believe that our combination of pension risk management and investment expertise, along with the tremendous potential of NOW: Pensions, is creating a ‘new force’ in the UK pension landscape,” they said.
ATP – Denmark’s largest pension insurer and the fourth largest in Europe – founded NOW: Pensions in 2011 to provide DC pensions to small employers when the UK introduced its auto-enrollment policy.
Although NOW: Pensions has grown to become the third largest auto-enrollment provider in the UK with 1.7 million savers, there have been operational problems in recent years.
A change of administration provider in 2014-15 led to problems with the processing and investment of contributions. The provider moved away from TPR’s list of approved providers in 2017 and was fined £ 70,000 (EUR 79,920) by TPR in 2018 in connection with the problems.
Founding CEO Morten Nilsson left the company in August 2017 and is now Managing Director of the BT Pension Scheme. Troy Clutterbuck was appointed permanent CEO in May 2018.
Clutterbuck said the Cardano deal would “bring significant benefits to our customers and members, and provide us with a fantastic platform to realize our full potential”.
Bo Foged, Interim CEO of ATP, said: “NOW: Pensions has become one of the largest auto enrollment providers in the UK. The market has matured and NOW: Annuities are entering a new phase of operations that focuses on asset growth.
“Given ATP’s continued strategic focus on simplification and consolidation, we have determined that this is the right time to end the investment and sell the company to a new and committed owner who will lead the company into the next phase of development in the UK becomes market. “
NOW: Pensions is the annuity insurer for IPE International Publishers.