Skip to main content


Freshfields advises gategroup on pension buy-out

Global law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (‘Freshfields’) has advised gategroup on the outsourcing of pension liabilities to Funding Solutions Germany – a third-party provider specialised in acquisition, administration and processing of pension liabilities.

gategroup had taken over pension liabilities with a volume of around €800 million in the course of the purchase of the European part of Deutsche Lufthansa's catering business in December 2019. gategroup had then decided to outsource a significant part of these liabilities. For this purpose, around €300 million of pension liabilities vis-à-vis pensioners and deferred pensioners were initially, by way of conversion law, transferred to two (group-owned) legal entities set up specifically for this purpose. For the proper funding of these legal entities, CTA plan assets were transferred and a long-term financing structure was developed which was specifically tailored for gategroup and the pensioner firms.

The legal entities to which the pension obligations were transferred, were subsequently acquired by Funding Solutions Germany. The restructuring is intended to ensure the long-term funding of the pension liabilities with a balance sheet effect.

The complex and comprehensive advice in this transaction spanned over a period of more than one year and represents one of the first large-volume transactions with this concept, which can be regarded as groundbreaking for future buy-out solutions of pension liabilities.

The Freshfields team, led by Partner Thomas Granetzny and Partner Elmar Schnitker (Düsseldorf, both Employment Law), included Associates Vera Münsch (Munich) and Sarah Richter (Düsseldorf, both Employment Law) and Partners Philipp Pütz (Düsseldorf), Konrad Schott, Alexander Glos (both Frankfurt), Counsel David Schwintowski (Berlin), Associates Justus Pauls, Maxim Gomer (both Düsseldorf), Principal Associate Alicia Hildner (Frankfurt, all Corporate/M&A) as well as Partner Jan Brinkmann and Principal Associate Leonard Kirscht (both Tax Law, Frankfurt).