Hogan Lovells wins the European Pensions Innovation Award

Kodak Pension Plan Wins Again at European Pensions Awards 2014

Our pensions team have won the European Pensions Innovation Award at the 2014 European Pensions Awards for their work on the Kodak Pension Plan (KPP).

The European Pensions Awards recognise outstanding achievement in the varied fields of European pension provision, honouring the investment firms, consultancies and pension providers across Europe that have set the professional standards in order to best serve European pension funds in these increasingly challenging times. The winners were announced at a gala dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel, on London's Park Lane on 26 June.

An Award-Winning Innovation

Our pensions team's work on KPP also earned them Employment, Pensions and Benefits Team of the year at the Legal Business Awards and was also recognised in May when our UK tax team won the 2014 ITR Award for European M&A Tax Deal of the Year.  In addition, it took third place for restructuring Team of the Year in The Lawyer Awards and it was shortlisted for Restructuring Team of the Year by Legal Week British Legal Awards; for Employment Team of the Year Awards by The Lawyer Awards; and for Restructuring Team of the Year Award by Financial News.

The matter involved two particularly innovative aspects.

First, the acquisition by the Kodak Pension Plan (the KPP), a UK registered pension scheme, of a US$650 million multi-jurisdictional business as part of arrangements for the settlement of significant liabilities of the pension fund participating employer, Kodak Limited (KL), and its U.S. parent company, Eastman Kodak Company (EKC) to the KPP.

The context was that EKC had filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court with the KPP being the largest single creditor at US$2.84 billion.
The acquisition by a pension fund of a significant multi-jurisdictional business is very rare in the UK and simply unheard of in other jurisdictions, including the U.S. Yet contracts were exchanged in April 2013 and substantially completed in September the same year. The KPP acquired EKC's Personalised Imaging business and Document Imaging business (covering more than 30 jurisdictions) as part of arrangements for the settlement of KL and EKC's obligations to the KPP.

Secondly, we advised on an entirely novel pension benefit restructuring for 15,000 members.  The restructuring delivered benefits which were better for every member than those provided by the Pension Protection Fund but which were lower and more affordable than the existing benefits. Members were offered membership of a new pension fund with the lower benefits and the Pension Protection Fund agreed to take the original pension fund, so the existing, more generous benefits ceased to be an option. After a huge communication programme, which involved over 30 hours of presentations from the trustees and their adviser team (including Katie Banks (London, pensions) and Chris Donoho (New York, BRI)) 96% of members took up the offer of the new pension fund.

As well as giving all members the opportunity to stay out of the PPF, the Hogan Lovells efforts enabled Eastman Kodak to emerge from chapter 11 bankruptcy and should allow both Eastman Kodak and Kodak Limited to restart profitable trading.

We won the award jointly with our client, Ross Trustees, chair of the KPP.

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