BApensions boss faces critical week

ROGER Maynard, chairman of the British Airways pension scheme and director of Spanish airline Iberia, has ducked out of key Iberia board meetings to avoid a conflict of interests.<br /><br />Maynard has steered clear of corporate discussions of Iberia&rsquo;s planned &pound;4.4bn merger with BA. However he is understood to have been closely involved in other aspects of the deal.<br /><br />The news draws attention to Maynard&rsquo;s sensitive position as the leader of BA&rsquo;s pension trustees at a time when the fund&rsquo;s estimated &pound;3bn shortfall becomes a key issue in the merger process. An agreement between BA and the trustees over how much money the company will pump into the fund to keep it afloat will be essential to sealing the deal with Iberia. BA has until June to reach a satisfactory accommodation.<br /><br />As chairman of the fund,Maynard will be influential in deciding what terms the trustees settle on. In the past the trustees of pension funds have been powerful in blocking acquisitions where it suits them.<br /><br />However, as director of Iberia and as an investment director of BA, a role he has held since 1995, Maynard would be expected to share managements&rsquo; desire to complete the deal.<br /><br />Last night a BA spokesman said questions over Maynard&rsquo;s interests as chairman of the pension fund and director of Iberia would have to be answered by the trustees, who are independent of BA. The BA pension fund trustees contacted by City A.M. -- Stuart Scott, Charlie Maunder, Ian Howick and Steve Gunning -- were unavailable or declined to comment.<br /><br />Actuaries are expected to complete a triennial review of the pension scheme by the end of the year. They will confirm the size of the hole in the company&rsquo;s savings pot, which stood at &pound;2.7bn in September but is forecast to rise to at least &pound;3bn by the end of December.<br />