Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2003 (Revised August 2003)

Pension Policy at The Boots Company PLC

by Luis M. Viceira and Akiko M. Mitsui

Abstract

In early 2000, the trustees of the pension scheme at Boots considered a proposal to move 100% of the pension assets into a bond portfolio, which would be passively managed. The Boots Co. PLC was a leading retailer of cosmetics and toiletries in the United Kingdom, and the company pension scheme was one of the largest in the country, with 2.3 billion British pounds in assets. If implemented, Boots would depart significantly from its prior pension investment strategy, which had been similar to that of other large U.K. pension funds. In general, such funds used external managers for active and passive portfolios of roughly 75% equities, 17% bonds, 4% real estate, and 4% cash. This unprecedented investment policy change would more closely align pension assets and liabilities and, according to long-standing academic principles of corporate pension fund management, it might also have significant effects on Boots itself, its shareholders, and other stakeholders. In making their decision, the trustees would have to consider these effects as well as the practical feasibility of such a plan.

Keywords: Performance Productivity; Employees; Asset Management; Capital Structure; Investment Portfolio; Consumer Products Industry; United Kingdom;

Citation:

Viceira, Luis M., and Akiko M. Mitsui. "Pension Policy at The Boots Company PLC." Harvard Business School Case 203-105, June 2003. (Revised August 2003.)