Posted: September 21st, 2015
KEN HUDGELL reports our 2001 AGM
NO MOVES TO MERGE…
Despite the anxieties following the terrorism of September 11, we counted at least 93 members present for our 2001 annual meeting on September 27.
The chairman warmly welcomed members present and our guests, who included Michael Pickard (Trustee Board chairman), Ian Urquhart (Pensions chief executive), Ralph Tomes (Secretary to Pension Trustees) and Paul Vickers (Company Secretary and Legal Director of Trinity Mirror, who was making his second appearance representing the management of the company. Alan Burns, a scheme trustee, was making his customary attendance.
The Chairman reported a number of apologies for absence, including two committee members (Pamela Duveen and Bob Avery) who were unable to travel due to incapacity.
Michael Pickard told the meeting that the terrorist atrocities in America on 11th September had resulted in a serious fall on all world markets, thereby causing a major decrease in the market value of scheme investments, particularly equities. However, as a result of Maxwell’s misappropriations some 10 years or so ago scheme funds were currently 70% invested in fixed interest securities. This was fortuitous as it tended to cushion the decline in stock market values.
Referring to the Equitable Life situation he said that as a director of that company he was hopeful the compromise arrangements amending the relationship between different classes of policy holders (announced recently) will result in a degree of financial stability and ultimately benefit all policy holders.
Pensioners who received benefits from AVC contributions prior to their retirement and before difficulties arose should not have any cause for concern.
Mr Pickard said the DTI report into the flotation of Mirror Group Newspapers contributed very little to our knowledge of the misappropriation of scheme funds and further recoveries were most unlikely. The Our chairman added that the DTI had confirmed to him that further legal actions had not yet been ruled out.
Michael Pickard reiterated his comments twelve months ago that the increase in life expectancy was welcome news for all, but created concern for all scheme actuaries who had to ensure assets were at such a level as to match liabilities, e.g. pension payments.
The Chairman thanked Michael Pickard for his report. Alan Burns reminded the meeting that apart from AVC’s funded with Equitable Life a number of scheme members had made contributions privately to that company. It was to be hoped the eventual reconstruction of that company would prove beneficial to them.
Paul Vickers told the meeting it was now two years since MGN merged with Trinity and the shape of the new company, Trinity Minor plc, was considerably different to the two old companies.
Profits were no longer reliant on newspapers as there were a number of other activities. Another avenue being explored to increase profitability was to reduce the number of suppliers to the company from the present level of 30,000. The share price (before the present global market decline attributed to terrorist activities) did not reflect the true strength of the company.
Both Michael Pickard and Paul Vickers confirmed that the company management had no intention of proposing the merging of any pension schemes in the foreseeable future.
The Chairman thanked Messrs Pickard and Vickers who then left the meeting.
Turning to purely Association matters he said it was disappointing so few members appeared to have access to the Associations website. A show of hands confirmed this view. but the Chairman said that hopefully it was not representative of the total membership. He continued by repeating his now annual appeal for volunteers to take on some of his duties, particularly the preparation and production of the Newsletter. There were sympathetic comments, but nothing concrete emerged from the meeting.
It was agreed that the month of September was favourite for the holding of the AGM.
The Treasurer presented the accounts for the year ended 31st March, 2001, which were approved.
Attention was drawn to the fact that Trinity Mirror had contributed £300 to (more than) cover the cost of hiring Conway Hall.
Before formally proceeding to the election of officers the Chairman asked if any members wished to offer themselves as Chairman. No offers were forthcoming and in consequence Mr Boram was unanimously re-elected for the ensuing year. The present committee members, including the treasurer and secretary were also re-elected for the ensuing year.
Under “other matters” Mr Burns said that in his opinion the “old scheme” was one of the safest schemes in existence, mainly due to its high proportion of fixed interest securities in scheme investments and, of course. the constitution of the scheme. The present investment policy was sound. He also repeated his comments of previous years that support for the Association by pensioners was of the utmost importance.
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