The FINANCIAL — RBS on April 17 announces that it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) with the Trustee of the Main Scheme of the RBS Group Pension Fund (the “Main Scheme”).
This MoU facilitates both the necessary changes to the Main Scheme to align the employing entity structure with the requirements of the UK ring-fencing legislation and acceleration of the settlement framework for the 31 December 2017 triennial valuation (brought forward from 31 December 2018). This MoU also provides clarity on the additional related funding contributions that will be required to be made by RBS Group to the Main Scheme as follows:
1) A pre-tax payment of £2 billion that will be made in the second half of 2018. As at 31 December 2017, the pro forma CET1 impact on The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc of the pre-tax £2 billion contribution is -80 basis points after-tax. There will also be a small additional tax charge of approximately £20 million as a result of this contribution. The pro forma impact of making this one-off payment is expected to be a reduction of around 12p on TNAV per share. RBS expects to recognise these impacts in Q2 2018.
2) From 1 January 2020, further pre-tax contributions of up to £1.5 billion in aggregate linked to the making of future distributions to RBS shareholders including ordinary and special dividends and/or share buy backs. RBS intends to pay to the Main Scheme an amount equal to each such distribution (subject to an annual cap on contributions of £500 million before tax) until aggregate pre-tax contributions of up to £1.5 billion have been made. There can be no assurance as to the timing for the resumption of distributions to shareholders or the amount once resumed.
Other than the tax charge, the charges related to the contributions will flow through the Statement of Other Comprehensive Income and not the Consolidated Income Statement.
The amount, timing and structure of these funding contributions and related assumptions supporting these contributions are intended to compensate the Trustee for both an associated loss of employer covenant as a result of certain RBS entities that currently support the Main Scheme ceasing to do so in connection with the implementation of ring-fencing (as further described below), and the settlement required for the triennial valuation as of 31 December 2017 which has now been accelerated from 31 December 2018. Subject to normal market conditions, the Trustee and RBS’s central expectation is that no further deficit contributions to the Main Scheme will be required, according to RBS.
Furthermore, in recognition of these contributions, the Trustee will adopt a lower risk long term investment strategy by gradually reducing its exposure to quoted equity and increasing its exposure to assets that give a greater certainty over cash flows, whilst continuing to develop its comprehensive interest rate and inflation hedging strategy. The outcome will be an investment portfolio that targets a lower, more stable return, increasing security for members and posing less risk to the RBS Group.
Under UK ring-fencing legislation, from 1 January 2026 it will not be possible for RBS Group entities outside of the ring fence to participate in the same defined benefit scheme as ring-fenced entities or their wholly-owned subsidiaries. RBS intends that by the end of March 2019, current The Royal Bank of Scotland plc (to be renamed NatWest Markets plc) and The Royal Bank of Scotland International Limited will have ceased to be participating employers in the Main Scheme and their liabilities will have been apportioned to National Westminster Bank Plc. Employees within these entities will be transferred to new sections of the RBS Group Pension Fund that will sit outside of the ring-fence.
Commenting on the developments, Ewen Stevenson, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), said;
“We are pleased to have reached this MoU with the Trustee of the Main Scheme of the RBS Group Pension Fund. With these proposed payments, together with the one-off contribution into the Fund in Q1 2016 we will have substantially addressed the historical funding weakness that existed in the Fund and brought clarity to future funding arrangements. For our shareholders, this MoU represents a further important milestone towards the resumption of capital distributions.”