(L-R) Awards host David Mitchell, Eversheds principal associate Lynette Lewis, awards judge Mine Hifzi
Finalists: Herbert Smith Freehills, MacRoberts (highly commended), Olswang, Simmons & Simmons and Ward Hadaway
Eversheds won the Commercial Team of the Year award after helping to secure the future of an historic Midlands automotive research facility by restructuring its pension schemes. “This was critical to the organisation concerned, and they had to think out of the box,” said one of the judges.
MIRA is an automotive engineering and development company based near Nuneaton in Warwickshire.
The company required external investment but was hindered by deficits owed to two pension schemes, the MIRA Retirement Benefits Scheme (MIRARBS) and the Universities Superannuation Scheme.
In order to sell the business to a new owner, the Eversheds team aimed to separate the company from both schemes, without leaving behind any latent liability, while ensuring the best possible return for the pension schemes.
Eversheds fielded a multi-disciplinary team on the deal, consisting of pensions, corporate and restructuring partners, who worked closely with MIRA’s financial and tax advisers, PwC.
The team developed a structure to ensure that the employer debts were only triggered at a given point in time and to a precise timetable.
Eversheds’ work led to a successful result and MIRA was purchased by Japanese equipment testing group HORIBA. If the work on the scheme had failed, MIRA would have become insolvent and MIRARBS would have fallen into the Pensions Protection Fund.