/ 23 February 2009

Investec settles pension dispute

Investec has settled its pension dispute with retirement funds that lost millions when Fedsure collapsed in 2002, the company said on Monday.

”Investec, the Federation of Unions of South Africa [Fedusa] and the South African Equity Workers Association [Saewa] have reached an, in principle, amicable agreement with 13 industrial pension and provident funds,” the parties said in a joint statement.

The agreement related to the funds’ legal claims arising from issues that occurred prior to Investec’s acquisition of Fedsure in 2001. The settlement amount was not disclosed.

According to the statement, the negotiating teams recommended that the trustees of the 13 industrial pension and provident funds ratify the agreement.

The agreement had already received endorsement from President Kgalema Motlanthe and the minister of finance, when they were briefed by Fedusa at a recent meeting held in Cape Town.

”It was clear from the response at the meeting that the social partners [government, organised labour, business and community] were delighted to have the sad saga of our retirement funds’ history come to an end,” said Dennis George, Fedusa’s general secretary.

”We are pleased to have reached a cordial agreement in this long pending matter with the trustees, that we inherited from our acquisition of Fedsure in 2001,” said Ciaran Whelan, Investec Employee Benefits chief executive officer.

”The settlement is a commercial issue, without any admission of liability by Investec,” Whelan added.

He said the pension funds’ dispute had been fully covered by Investec’s insurers.

”There is no financial impact on our business,” Whelan said.

According to George, the agreement had ”many positive attributes for our members and our struggling economy.

”As a result of this agreement, an inflow of foreign currency into our country will stimulate and boost our economy,” he said.

The amount would be paid by several London-based Lloyd’s insurance syndicates.

”Despite the long-running litigation between the parties, Investec Asset Management has continued to manage some of the trade union funds’ investments, and we look forward to strengthening our relationship with Investec in the future,” George said.

The Fedusa National Executive Committee (NEC) would be briefed about the agreement on February 25 and would be asked to endorse a resolution to end all campaigns against Investec, he added.

The Fedusa NEC would also be asked to help rebuild the relationship between Investec and the international trade union fraternity.

Saewa’s assistant general secretary Deon van Deventer said Saewa had invested a huge amount of resources and energy to resolve ”this unpleasant matter and bring it to a closure”.

Saewa represented workers of five of the affected retirement funds.

Van Deventer said he would also recommend to the board of trustees that they accept the settlement agreement as it was appropriate given the current economic climate. — Sapa