The Pensions Regulator (TPR) of the UK has announced that French drug company Sanofi has agreed to inject an upfront payment of £37 million into its UK defined benefit (DB) pension scheme and guarantee “additional protection of up to £730 million in the event of insolvency in the next 20 years.”
The TPR said: “Thousands of savers in a global healthcare company’s UK defined benefit (DB) scheme are now better protected after The Pensions Regulator (TPR) warned of enforcement action to secure increased financial support for the scheme.
“A regulatory intervention report published today details how TPR worked with Sanofi and the scheme’s trustee to secure an improved guarantee package from the wider group, including substantial deficit repair contributions, additional protection of up to £730 million in the event of insolvency in the next 20 years, and an upfront payment of £37 million.
“The Sanofi Section of the Sanofi Pension Scheme, which has 16,500 members, also benefits from an agreement, which is now legally binding, meaning that any dividend payments to the wider group paid by the scheme’s employers will be matched by contribution payments into the scheme.”
Erica Carroll, TPR’s Director of Enforcement said: “This case demonstrates how productive negotiations can be carried out alongside our investigations so that the best possible outcome is achieved for savers.
“We signalled our intention to use our anti-avoidance powers which prompted Sanofi to engage in meaningful discussions with us and the scheme’s trustee.”
The report outlines how TPR opened an investigation in August 2019 “following ongoing concerns about the progressively weakened direct covenant supporting the scheme after a number of group restructures over several years.”
While Sanofi had put in place a guarantee package to provide some additional financial support, it was not judged to be sufficient by TPR.
Sanofi said it does not have any concerns about insolvency “and we have never had any doubt about Sanofi’s ability and commitment to support its UK scheme now and in the future.”
Sanofi added: “Nevertheless, we are happy the agreed package has put any concerns of the Pensions Regulator to rest and will allow us to continue our focus on helping people live longer and healthier lives.”