Takeover target Telent - the firm formed from the remains of the Marconi Corporation - was yesterday said to be mulling over a potential opportunity to offload its £2.7 billion pension fund to Isabel Hudson, the former Prudential executive who has set up a specialist firm to take over company retirement schemes.
Ms Hudson, the former head of distribution at Prudential, this month launched Synesis Life, which has raised money from backers to take on pension liabilities of up to £10 billion.
According to reports she is now seriously considering an offer for the Telent pension fund, which has around 70,000 members. Any deal would be the first of its kind. Late last month Telent, which employs around 2,000 at its bases in Coventry, Chorley and Basildon, confirmed an agreed takeover approach from American investment firm Fortress Investment Group value at £346 million.
Telent said it had reached agreement in principle on a deal with Holmar, a fund advised by Fortress, which was founded in 1998 and has some $21 billion under management. But the group, which employs some 400 people at Coventry, added it would first consult a small number of "significant" customers to ensure that existing contractual arrangements would continue unaffected by the proposed change of control before the terms of the offer are finalised.
The Fortress offer is valued at 529.5 pence per Telent share, a 23 per cent premium over the average closing price since Telent announced the disposal of its equipment and international services business to Ericsson last October. It is expected to be finalised in early August.
At the time of announcing the deal with Fortresss, Telent said that since the Ericsson agreement it had been reviewing the most appropriate corporate structure for the company, given the size of its operations and UK pension plan.
It said the board had concluded there was no short or medium-term prospect of Telent being able to dispose of its UK pension plan to the secondary market on terms that would create value for shareholders.
Fortress Investment and rival US hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management are both thought to have looked at the Telent scheme. Ms Hudson is believed to have talked to both Fortress and Cerberus, but may prefer to do a deal on her own.