The transaction protects the scheme from the risk of around 6,000 pensioners and future dependent members living longer than expected. Zurich has reinsured a significant proportion of the longevity risk with Canada Life Reinsurance.
Aon acted as lead transaction advisor, providing actuarial and investment services, including negotiating the insurance terms with Zurich and broking the reinsurance.
This is the seventh longevity swap Zurich has entered into in under two years, taking the total liabilities hedged by pension schemes with Zurich to around £3.5bn.
In the past, Zurich has focussed on smaller and mid-sized UK pension schemes, where it has developed a solution opening up de-risking to this end of the market for the first-time.
Zurich head of longevity risk transfer Greg Wenzerul says:“This is our first bespoke intermediated longevity swap and by far our largest deal to date. I’m delighted that our solution fitted the National Grid Electricity Group Trustee’s requirements. The transaction transfers the material risk of members living longer than expected from the pension scheme to Zurich Assurance. The advantages of our intermediated solution include efficiency of execution due to the clean transfer of risk, a clear route to dealing with changing future circumstances, and the inherent benefits of transferring risk to a UK regulated insurer. We are planning to further develop our presence in the large bespoke de-risking market.”
Group trustee chair Jon Carlton says:”The group trustee is pleased to have been able to significantly reduce one of the key risks that any pension scheme faces, namely the uncertainty on how long members will actually live in practice. By working in close partnership with National Grid and our advisers, we have successfully put in place this insurance policy with Zurich. The policy will provide increased certainty on the cost of providing current benefits, which will therefore reduce the funding risks faced by the group trustee and National Grid in the future.”
National Grid finance director Andrew Bonfield says:“We are very pleased to announce the completion of this longevity insurance which covers around two-thirds of the liabilities of the National Grid Electricity Group pension liabilities. This demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the security of our pension arrangements, and represents a significant step in our long-term strategy to manage down the level of pensions risk for National Grid shareholders and electricity consumers.”
Aon senior partner and head of risk settlement Martin Bird says:“Notable features of this deal included the creation of a streamlined framework suitable for use within the Electricity Supply Pension Scheme arrangements, as well as an attractive price, reflecting a period of significant price correction in the longevity reinsurance market.
“The transaction also demonstrates the opportunities currently available to pension schemes to hedge longevity risk cost effectively via a structure under which the scheme retains control of and flexibility over its investment strategy. It’s great that we have been able to support the Group Trustee and National Grid with the successful execution of this transaction. Zurich’s entry into the large-scale longevity risk transfer arena is good news for the wider market.”
Canada Life Reinsurance global head Jeff Poulin says:“This transaction builds on our existing book of UK longevity risk and we look forward to continuing to add to the portfolio in the coming months and years.”
Legal advice was provided to Zurich by CMS, the Group Trustee by DLA Piper and Mayer Brown, and to Canada Life Reinsurance by Herbert Smith Freehills.