The UK’s Pensions Regulator (TPR) has told pension scheme trustees to “negotiate robustly” with sponsoring employers if they are not giving sufficient financial support to their retirement funds.In the regulator’s annual funding statement, released yesterday, it told trustees not to agree to scheme valuations if they felt the outcome would disadvantage the scheme.It referred to “recent corporate failures” as it laid out detailed guidance for pension funds to ensure employers fulfilled their obligations.In particular, the regulator cited “the risk of long recovery plans while payments to shareholders are excessive relative to deficit repair contributions”. This echoed similar statements made by TPR in last year’s annual funding statement, but this year it went further to draw trustees’ attention to “other forms of covenant leakage” such as loans between different parts of a business, transfers of assets, and even high senior executive pay in the case of small schemes.“We believe that employers with weak covenants should normally retain cash within the company to fund sustainable growth and address their pension deficit rather than paying it out to shareholders,” the regulator said.In addition, TPR said its “proactive casework” had increased by 90% year-on-year as part of its aim to be “clearer, quicker and tougher” on scheme funding.Joe Dabrowski, head of governance and investment at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, said: “This is especially relevant given that it will be 2019-20, at the earliest, before we see any of the legislative changes proposed in the government’s recent white paper.“However, it is important that as the regulator increases its activity it remains proportionate and practical in the use of its powers.”‘Robust’ discussions over Carillion’s pensions Robin Ellison gives evidence at the Carillion inquiryDuring a parliamentary inquiry into the collapse of Carillion earlier this year, politicians pressed the former chair of the company’s pension schemes over the nature of protracted discussions about scheme valuations and funding.Robin Ellison said the trustee board had pushed the construction and engineering contractor as hard as it could.“We did our best with the information at our disposal,” he said, adding that it was a balancing act between getting as much money for the pension scheme as possible without driving the sponsor out of business. “I don’t think there is anything more we could have done to pursue higher contributions.”Ellison maintained that the trustees “did not just roll over and get our tummies tickled when the company paused contributions”.In a letter to the inquiry, TPR chief executive Lesley Titcomb said the regulator had “robustly supported the trustees during negotiations about scheme funding” and made clear to the trustees and employer that it would use enforcement powers if agreement was not reached. The regulator did not take any formal enforcement action until after Carillion collapsed, but argued that the threat of action had persuaded the company to agree to higher contributions.Brexit impactAs well as employer contributions, the regulator also emphasised the importance of factoring in Brexit to future funding and strategy discussions. It said trustees and employers should have “open and collaborative discussions” about the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU on the economy and on relevant business sectors.Sponsors could hold back cash from their schemes to protect against Brexit uncertainty, TPR said, but trustees should ensure shareholders were “also sharing the burden proportionately”.Matthew Arends, partner at Aon Hewitt, said the regulator’s statements indicated that it would place more emphasis on planning for future triennial valuations rather than just the closest one.His colleague Lynda Whitney added: “Trustees and employers need to consider prudence levels in 2018 valuations in anticipation of future changes.”TPR’s full annual funding statement is available here .
Joseph Chen | Daily TrojanDeparting Athletic Director Pat Haden will always tell you that’s he not interested in his legacy, but he will undoubtedly be leaving one at his alma mater. Haden sought to leave USC Athletics in a better place than when he took over nearly six years ago — and while that is up for debate, there has certainly been change.In 2010, Haden took on a job that he never thought he would accept in the first place and, quite frankly, one that was not too desirable at the time due to the harsh sanctions that were handed down by the NCAA. He said that he wouldn’t have stepped into the athletic director post — succeeding Mike Garrett — had it not been for the incoming president at the time, C. L. Max Nikias, a long-time friend and colleague of his, someone “he could always count on.”“I did it because I loved the school and wouldn’t have done it anyplace else,” Haden said.At the time, Nikias, the athletics department and the University as a whole needed a hero as they prepared to embark on some rough waters, and that protagonist was indeed Haden, a former star Trojan athlete and scholar himself.“It was in a time of need, and I didn’t realize how rocky it was going to be,” Haden said.It’s fair to say Haden was faced with an unprecedented amount of undesirable circumstances, difficult decisions and controversy for any collegiate athletic director.One could imagine that scholarship limitations and postseason bans, fused with the never-ending pressure that is derived from hiring and firing coaches, and even more off-the-field drama, would take its toll on just about any athletic administrator. Even in times of turmoil, being the Trojan he naturally is, Haden always tended to do what he has been doing his entire life — fighting on.“At age 63, I know who I am and who I’m about, and while lots of times there is outside noise and people criticizing who criticize you [for] virtually every decision you make,” Haden said. “I think that belief in yourself helps you weather that storm.”The fruit of his labor is a restored and revamped athletics program, one that Nikias described as in a “free fall” just six years ago.“[The program] felt like that hamster in the cage just trying to paddle as quickly as we can to keep up with the rest of the University,” Haden said.But its upward trajectory now is more evident than ever in a number of different facets, thanks to Haden’s leadership.“The thing I’m most proud of is our academic achievement,” Haden said.Student-athlete graduation rates and GPAs are not only up, but are also the highest they’ve been in the program’s history. To go along with academic success, Haden has also streamlined one of the most robust compliance departments in the nation, with the help of Vice President of Athletic Compliance Dave Roberts, who like Haden, was brought in during one of the program’s darkest periods.“[Haden] worked so hard in restoring the dignity of our program very quickly,” Nikias said earlier this month after new Athletic Director Lynn Swann’s introductory press conference. “He has been a good friend and done an outstanding job.”Haden also broke more ground at USC than any athletic director before him, overseeing the development of a number of athletic facilities, including the John McKay Center, Merle Norman Stadium for beach volleyball, as well as the renovations of the Uytengsu Aquatics Center and Heritage Hall.In competition, the numbers speak for themselves. USC has brought home 10 national championships, 30-plus individual national titles and counting during Haden’s tenure. One of the things that Haden is most proud of is the unprecedented advancement of a pair of sports which the athletics program added just a few years ago: women’s lacrosse and beach volleyball.The beach volleyball team claimed its first-ever team national title last spring, while the lacrosse team just celebrated an undefeated regular season campaign, catapulting to a No. 5 national ranking and a league title. Both programs accomplished these feats in just four short seasons since they began at USC.Meanwhile, this past season, the men’s basketball team returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011 and the “800-pound gorilla” that is the football program has actually won more games than all but two teams in the conference over the past five years.“That’s pretty incredible considering what we’ve been through,” Haden said.While the athletics program has improved over time with Haden at the helm, his tenure has not been without its blunders and missteps. He even pronounced the very day he took over that he was going to “make mistakes” and “do some stupid things.”Haden said that one of his greatest regrets was when he went down on the field during a football game against Stanford in 2014 after receiving a text message from former head coach Steve Sarkisian. He received a lot of backlash for doing so, particularly because he was serving on the College Football Playoff selection committee at the time.“I could have handled that situation better,” Haden said.Other criticized mishaps have included the airport firing of Lane Kiffin and the mismanaged handling of the unfortunate Sarkisian predicament.“The job wasn’t without its challenges and its ups and downs,” Haden said.Now that Haden has managed to carefully maneuver just about every curveball thrown at him during his tenure, he prepares to pass the ball off to former Trojan wide receiver Lynn Swann, like they did so often as teammates at USC on those dominant teams in the 1970s.While Swann will take over Haden’s duties as athletic director, effective July 1, Haden will be staying at USC to oversee the Coliseum renovation project, a proposed $270 million endeavor that is expected to be completed by 2019.“Pat is not going anywhere,” Nikias said.The Coliseum will house the newly relocated Los Angeles Rams for the next three seasons, who return home after a 21-year hiatus from the city. Haden played for the Rams during his NFL career and is excited to see his former team back at the historic venue.“If there was going to be a team, I’m glad it was the Rams, a team that has shared the Coliseum with USC before,” Haden said.Aside from completing the Coliseum makeover, Haden has his sights on what’s next after finishing his time as athletic director. He plans on taking the extra time to work on his health, as well as helping raise the seven grandchildren that live right around the corner from him. He also plans on frequently returning to USC to attend sporting events.“I met my wife here, my kids went to school here, my best friends to this day went to school here, I was on the board for 19 years, so I have a lot invested in the place, and will continue to be a huge USC supporter moving forward,” Haden said.Reflecting on what he says is one of the most challenging jobs of his life, Haden exhibited a great deal of appreciation for what students on the University Park Campus have given here over the course of the past six years.“I enjoyed working on a college campus with young people and some of the world’s best athletes, who happened to be some of USC’s best students as well,” Haden said.That feeling is mutual from his student-athletes, who are also going to miss what he brought to the program.“Pat Haden has been much more than just an athletic director at USC. He’s been a father figure, a role model, a mentor and a friend to hundreds of us student-athletes,” said graduating football player Robby Kolanz, who also interned for Haden. “I can’t imagine this school without him, but I know he’ll be around because it’s just part of his blood.”As for advice for his successor, Haden said that Swann should really get to know the place and try to not make any drastic changes for at least six months into the job.With just two months to go in Haden’s stint as athletic director, though, his mentality hasn’t changed one bit.“I don’t want any special plaques or anything,” Haden said. “I’m going to finish my job June 30, and I hope to have left it a better place for the next athletic director.”
Prior to every event, Under the Radar will cast the spotlight on an up-and-coming talent who shows the potential for growth in their division and isn’t getting enough attention as they head into battle. This week, it’s undefeated bantamweight Patrick Mix.Name: Patrick MixRecord: 10-0 overall; Bellator MMA debutDivision: BantamweightTeam: WNY MMA & Fitness / JacksonWink MMA We are JACKSON WINK 🤘🏾A post shared by Patchy Mix (@patchymix) on Jun 8, 2019 at 5:03am PDT While breaking away from the routine of working with the people who were there for you from the start is always challenging, it goes without saying that a young prospect with potential is far more likely to grow and develop training alongside high-level fighters and world champions under the tutelage of coaches who have guided athletes to those heights in the past and Mix has clearly benefitted from being there.One of the cool things about this matchup is that it’s not the first time Mix and Bandejas have been scheduled to fight each other. They were initially paired off together at Ring of Combat 59, but the bout was cancelled prior to the event.(Sidenote: Looking back at it, Ring of Combat 59 was a really strong regional card, with three fighters from the event already graduating to the UFC and two more standing as top regional talents).From a stylistic perspective, this is an intriguing matchup because Bandejas is at his best when he can keep his opponents at range and dictate the action with his jab and long kicks, while Mix will absolutely be looking to get inside, get it to the ground and go to work with his grappling.It’s also a really compelling fight because after making a splash with his knockout win over James Gallagher, Bandejas acquitted himself well against streaking veteran Juan Archuleta last time out and a win over the Nick Catone protégé would immediately vault the unbeaten Mix into the thick of the title chase in the bantamweight ranks.And if you’re going to lose, it’s far better to lose to someone with Bandejas’ experience and reputation while fighting on the big stage than getting caught out by somebody on the regional circuit. The fact that Patrick Mix hasn’t fought in a major promotion yet is confusing to me.No disrespect to King of the Cage, which has been around forever and is a reputable regional brand, but given what the 25 year old has already done in both the professional and amateur ranks, it’s surprising that his pairing with Ricky Bandejas this weekend at Bellator 222 in New York City is his big stage debut.Join DAZN and watch Bellator 222 on June 14Mix went 11-0 as an amateur and is now 10-0 as a pro, with 15 of those 21 victories coming by way of stoppage. Just like with anyone who plies their trade on the regional circuit long and successfully enough, there are going to be some professional opponents and guys who are completely overmatched scattered amongst his conquests. But there are also a couple crucial names in there that really stand out.In November 2017, Mix needed less than half a round to choke out Andre Ewell. Six months later, he needed less than two minutes to do the same to Tony Gravely.Ewell earned four straight wins following that loss, got signed by the UFC and beat Renan Barao in his promotional debut. After losing to rising star Nathaniel Wood in his sophomore appearance in the Octagon, he’s scheduled to face Anderson dos Santos later his month in Greenville, South Carolina.Gravely is also unbeaten since losing to Mix, rattling off six consecutive triumphs to rise to the top of the CES bantamweight division. He’s already successfully defended his title twice this year and feels like another guy who should find his way to one of the bigger stages at some point in 2019.And Mix finished them in a combined four minutes and 12 seconds.A native of western New York, Mix has been doing his last several camps at JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, working with the outstanding collection of coaches and training partners assembled at the famed desert outpost. View this post on Instagram Bellator 222 is flush with exciting fights and intriguing matchups, but this one ranks right up there for me.This is a huge opportunity for Mix to get the biggest win of his career and catapult himself into contention right out of the gate and at the very least, he should prove that he has the chops to compete with the best bantamweights Bellator has to offer.In many ways, it feels like when Bandejas was paired with Gallagher, when the game regional talent rolled into the cage and emerged victorious. Only now, it’s Bandejas looking to avoid getting upset by the new arrival.
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