Cardano Group, the pensions risk and investment management specialist, has today bought master trust provider Now: Pensions Ltd from Danish pension fund Arbejdsmarkedets Tillaegspension (ATP), almost a year to the week that Corporate Adviser reported it was up for sale.
Now: Pensions, which is the UK’s third largest auto-enrolment provider, serving over 30,000 employers, had been beset with administrative problems, which led to its departure from the Pensions Regulator’s master trust assurance framework approved list, although the regulator says its admin problems are now largely resolved.
Its 1.7 million members have also suffered from poor investment performance, lagging other master trust providers significantly, having followed a risk parity strategy investing in derivatives, a strategy no other master trust operates. Now: Pensions anticipates transferring its investment management mandate from Now: Pensions Investments (NPI) in Denmark to Cardano’s UK-based fund management team subject to completion of due diligence by the Trustee.
The deal is expected to complete later in 2019 following the provider’s master trust authorisation.
The combined business will create a full-service platform for growth.
Following completion of the acquisition, Cardano will manage over £25 billion of assets and employ 350 people across its core markets of the UK and the Netherlands.
The acquisition is Cardano’s second in the UK following the acquisition of covenant advisory specialist Lincoln Pensions in October 2016.
Cardano Co-CEOs Theo Kocken and Michaël De Lathauwer say: “In a short space of time, Now: Pensions has grown to become one of the leading players in the auto-enrolment market. Bringing Cardano and NOW: Pensions together is transformational for our Group. It is an investment in the future of UK pensions, enabling us to grow and diversify our client base. We believe our combination of pensions risk management and investment skills, together with NOW: Pensions’ enormous potential creates a ‘new force’ across the UK pensions landscape.”
Now: Pensions CEO Troy Clutterbuck says: “In Cardano we have found a like-minded organisation, with a long-term commitment to the UK pensions market, that offers a great fit with our business. Workplace pensions in the UK are gathering greater momentum as the auto-enrolment regime matures. Being part of the Cardano Group will bring significant benefits for our clients and members, giving us a fantastic platform to reach our full potential.”
Now: Pensions Trust chair of trustee Nigel Waterson says: “The Trustee Directors are delighted that Now: Pensions has found a new home with Cardano. This is an exciting time in the development of Now: Pensions. As well as gaining access to their expert investment team, our members will benefit from Cardano’s wealth of experience in technology and aligned commitment to good governance. We are working closely with ATP and Cardano to ensure a smooth and safe transition for our members. The future is bright for Now: Pensions and our members.”
ATP interim CEO Bo Foged says: “Now: Pensions has grown into one of the largest auto enrolment providers in the UK. The market has matured, and Now: Pensions is entering a new phase of operation focused on asset growth. In view of ATP’s continued strategic focus on simplification and consolidation, we have found this to be the right time to exit the investment and sell the company to a new and dedicated owner who will take the company into the next phase of development in the UK market.”