City of London Pension Fund Investments

Edward Jones made this Freedom of Information request to City of London Corporation

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear City of London Corporation,

I would like to request the following information:

1) The full details of what the City of London Pension Fund currently invests in, including the name and amounts of each asset class or investment being held.

2) The investments broken down into different categories/types of holding, including: Index Linked Securities, Unit trust Property, Cash Instruments, Unit Trust Equities, Infrastructure, Fixed Interest Securities, Equities Segregated Unlisted, Equities Segregated UK, Equities Segregated Foreign as well as any other investments that the Pension Fund holds.

3) The industrial sector of each investment e.g. Aerospace & Defense, Oil & Gas Producers, Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology, Media, Banks, Mining, Government, Automobiles, Financial Services, Housing and any other sectors that the Pension Fund holds investments in. Examples of Pension Funds which have previously included this data in their publicly released investments include Buckinghamshire and Derbyshire. (i)

4) A full list of all the companies which the Pension Fund currently invests in (this should be covered in the above requests). This list should include the names of each company and the amount invested in each company.

5) Can you clearly specify the total value of all investments that the Pension Fund holds in sterling.

6) I would like to receive this information in an unlocked excel sheet without protected cells (.xls). If you have to password protect the excel sheet, can you also provide the password to the excel sheet. When considering the request for this data in excel format, please refer to Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 (ii), which allows a requestor to express a preference for communication by a particular means, specifically: "an applicant's right to choose to have information provided to him in electronic form extends to a right to choose the software format in which it is embodied." (iii)

I would like to receive the information in electronic format. If one part of the request can be answered sooner than others, please send that information first followed by any subsequent data. If you need further clarification, please contact me by email.

Many public authorities release their contracts, minutes and other information of interactions with private vendors in line with the Freedom of Information Act. The exemption for commercial interest under the Act (section 43) is a qualified exemption, which means information can only be withheld if it is in the public's interest. The public have an interest in knowing what the Pension Fund is investing in, the terms of contracts and the minutes of meeting with public authorities, whether or not public money changes hands immediately.

If you are relying on section 41 (the exemption for legal breach of confidence) then I would like to know the following:

* When these confidentiality agreements were agreed
* All correspondence and email in which these confidentiality agreements were discussed
* The precise wording of the confidentiality agreements.

I ask these questions because guidance issued by both the Lord Chancellor (draft guidance on FOI implementation) and the Office of Government Commerce (Model terms and conditions for goods and services) specifically state that public authorities should not enter into these types of agreements; they go directly against the spirit of the laws of disclosure. I would also point to the Information Commissioner's guidance on accepting blanket commercial confidentiality agreements: 'Unless confidentiality clauses are necessary or reasonable, there is a real risk that, in the event of a complaint, the Commissioner would order disclosure in any case.' (iv)

Finally, within the law of confidence there is also a public interest test. Therefore, the information should be disclosed in full. If any parts are redacted they must be for information that can be proven to be a legal breach of confidence in court, and only then where secrecy can be shown to be in the public interest. These are difficult positions to argue when public money is at stake or where a public authority is offering a private company a monopoly to charge its stakeholders.

I reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to charge excessive fees, and understand that under the act, I am entitled to a response within 20 working days. I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request.

Yours faithfully,

Edward Jones

(i) Buckinghamshire https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2... Derbyshire https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

(ii) Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/...

(iii) Section 11 FOIA and the Form of a Request https://panopticonblog.com/2014/08/01/se...

(iv) 'Freedom of Information Awareness Guidance 5: Commercial Interests' Office of the Information Commissioner, Page 10, https://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/pr...

Edward Jones

COL-EB-InformationOfficer, City of London Corporation

Dear Edward Jones,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 (FOIA) – REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

The City of London (CoL) acknowledges receipt of your request for information of 24 June 2020.

Public authorities are required to respond to requests within the statutory timescale of 20 working days beginning from the first working day after they receive a request. The Act does not always require public authorities to disclose the information which they hold.

The FOIA applies to the CoL as a local authority, police authority and port health authority. The CoL is the local and police authority for the “Square Mile”, ie the historic City of London, and not for London as a whole. Please see the following page containing a link to a map (‘Explore the City’), which shows the local authority area covered by the CoL:
https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/maps/Pag....

The CoL does have some functions, including Port Health Authority functions, which extend beyond the City boundary. For further information please see: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely,

Information Officer
Comptroller & City Solicitor’s Department
City of London
Tel: 020-7332 1243
www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

show quoted sections

CHB - FOI, City of London Corporation

3 Attachments

Dear Edward Jones,

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 (FOIA) - INFORMATION REQUEST

 

Following your request for information of 24 June 2020 and our
acknowledgment of 25 June  2020 the City of London (CoL) responds as
follows.

The responses to the your questions  have been answered in the attached
documents. Please note that the current values are calculated as at the 31
March each year, accordingly, the most recent figures are as at the 31
March 2019. All our investments are direct and do not involve assistance
from other parties e.g. placement agents etc.

 

Please note that the investment information is usually updated on a
quarterly basis, with information as at the end of March, June, September
and December. If you wish to contact us for that updated information, I
would suggest that it would be most appropriate to send requests at the
end of the following month.

 

I have also attached the CoL Pension Fund Investment Strategy document for
further background.

 

The accounts for 2019/20 are being prepared and will be available for
public inspection at this link:
[1]https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-us...

 

If you have any queries or concerns, please contact me.

 

If you wish to make a complaint about the way the CoL has managed your
enquiry, please make your complaint in writing to email address:
[2][email address]. For a link to the CoL’s FOI complaints
procedure, please visit the following page:
[3]www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Feedback, at the end of which is located the
FOI complaints procedure. If, having used the CoL’s FOI Complaints
Procedure, you are still dissatisfied, you may request the Information
Commissioner to investigate. Please contact: Information Commissioner,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. Telephone:
(01625) 545700.  Website: [4]http://www.ico.org.uk/.

 

The FOIA applies to the CoL as a local authority, police authority and
port health authority.

 

The CoL holds the copyright in this communication and attachment. Its
supply does not give a right to re-use in a way that would infringe that
copyright, for example, by making copies, publishing and issuing copies to
the public or to any other person. Brief extracts of any of the material
may be reproduced under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act 1988 (sections 29 and 30) for the purposes of
research for non-commercial purposes, private study, criticism, review and
news reporting, subject to an acknowledgement of the copyright owner.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Access to Information Network Representative

Chamberlain's Department

City of London

Tel: 020 7332 1384

Website: [5]www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

 

Dear City of London Corporation,

 

I would like to request the following information:

 

1) The full details of what the City of London Pension Fund currently
invests in, including the name and amounts of each asset class or
investment being held.

 

2) The investments broken down into different categories/types of holding,
including: Index Linked Securities, Unit trust Property, Cash Instruments,
Unit Trust Equities, Infrastructure, Fixed Interest Securities, Equities
Segregated Unlisted, Equities Segregated UK, Equities Segregated Foreign
as well as any other investments that the Pension Fund holds.

 

3) The industrial sector of each investment e.g. Aerospace & Defence, Oil
& Gas Producers, Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology, Media, Banks, Mining,
Government, Automobiles, Financial Services, Housing and any other sectors
that the Pension Fund holds investments in. Examples of Pension Funds
which have previously included this data in their publicly released
investments include Buckinghamshire and Derbyshire. (i)

 

4) A full list of all the companies which the Pension Fund currently
invests in (this should be covered in the above requests). This list
should include the names of each company and the amount invested in each
company.

 

5) Can you clearly specify the total value of all investments that the
Pension Fund holds in sterling.

THIS E-MAIL AND ANY ATTACHED FILES ARE CONFIDENTIAL AND MAY BE LEGALLY
PRIVILEGED. If you are not the addressee, any disclosure, reproduction,
copying, distribution or other dissemination or use of this communication
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error
please notify the sender immediately and then delete this e-mail.
Opinions, advice or facts included in this message are given without any
warranties or intention to enter into a contractual relationship with the
City of London unless specifically indicated otherwise by agreement,
letter or facsimile signed by a City of London authorised signatory. Any
part of this e-mail which is purely personal in nature is not authorised
by the City of London. All e-mail through the City of London's gateway is
potentially the subject of monitoring. All liability for errors and
viruses is excluded. Please note that in so far as the City of London
falls within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004, it may need to disclose this
e-mail. Website: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

References

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Dear CHB - FOI,

Many thanks for your response.

In it you provide a attachment entitled 'ALTERNATIVE ASSET PORTFOLIO FOR CITY OF LONDON PENSION FUND AS AT 31 MARCH 2020', which gives a breakdown of £100,064,476 worth of investments (value as at 31 March 2020).

However, the City of London Pension Fund is worth over £1 billion. Can you please provide a detailed breakdown of the rest of the Pension Funds investments, as I originally requested? I am aware that the pension fund is managed by several fund managers. Many other local authority pension funds release the full investment holdings of all of their fund managers - I can provide examples on request.

The attached annual report you do provide is from 31 March 2019, so the information is over 15 months out-of-date. In my original request I asked for the: "full details of what the City of London Pension Fund currently invests in". Data from March 2019 is not current. Pension Funds often report their investments quarterly, so can you please provide the most recent investment data you can provide from 2020? The annual report itself, anyway, does not provide the kind of detailed investment data which I requested, as mentioned above. Please release as recent data, and as detailed as possible, investment data (ideally including breakdowns of how all the fund managers are investing) from the City of London Pension Fund.

Also, as I mentioned in the original request:

"I would like to receive this information in an unlocked excel sheet without protected cells (.xls). If you have to password protect the excel sheet, can you also provide the password to the excel sheet. When considering the request for this data in excel format, please refer to Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 (ii), which allows a requestor to express a preference for communication by a particular means, specifically: "an applicant's right to choose to have information provided to him in electronic form extends to a right to choose the software format in which it is embodied." (iii)

The documents you provided to in your response are all pdfs.

Please can you provide the information I originally requested, but in an excel sheet(s)? As the above mentioned FOI rulings mention, I have a right to choose the software format for the information I request. Please also make sure that any excel sheet you release, covers all of the questions I asked for in the original request.

(ii) Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/...

(iii) Section 11 FOIA and the Form of a Request https://panopticonblog.com/2014/08/01/se...

I have made similar requests in the past to Falkirk Council, after they initially sent me the information in .pdf format, and they then sent me the information in excel format. I hope you can do the same. Please see the exchange between myself and Falkirk Council here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/f...

Yours sincerely,

Edward Jones

CHB - FOI, City of London Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear Edward Jones,

 

Thank you for your follow up enquiry to the CoL’s response of 13 July
2020.

 

The information sent previously was the most up to date information
available at that time. We are now able to provide the 2019/20 unaudited
financial accounts which include the Pension Fund for that year at the
following link:
[1]https://gbr01.safelinks.protection.outlo....

 

These accounts include pension fund information at 31 March 2020. I have
also attached a copy for your convenience.

 

Please note that the CoL pension fund exited direct equity investments in
2014/15 and now invests via pooled vehicles as set out in the attached
accounts.

 

We hope that this additional response is of assistance to you.

 

We have also included our complaints information again should you wish to
make a complaint about the way the CoL has managed your enquiry, please
make your complaint in writing to email address:
[2][email address]. For a link to the CoL’s FOI complaints
procedure, please visit the following page:
[3]https://gbr01.safelinks.protection.outlo...,
at the end of which is located the FOI complaints procedure. If, having
used the CoL’s FOI Complaints Procedure, you are still dissatisfied, you
may request the Information Commissioner to investigate. Please contact:
Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire,
SK9 5AF. Telephone: (01625) 545700.  Website:
[4]https://gbr01.safelinks.protection.outlo....

 

The FOIA applies to the CoL as a local authority, police authority and
port health authority; and to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama
(GSMD), which it manages. Subject to any other statutory provisions
requiring the CoL to disclose information, release of information outside
the scope of the Act is subject to the discretion of the CoL.

 

The CoL holds the copyright in this communication. Its supply does not
give a right to re-use in a way that would infringe that copyright, for
example, by making copies, publishing and issuing copies to the public or
to any other person. Brief extracts of any of the material may be
reproduced under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act 1988 (sections 29 and 30) for the purposes of research for
non-commercial purposes, private study, criticism, review and news
reporting, subject to an acknowledgement of the copyright owner.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Access to Information Network Representative

Chamberlain's Department

City of London

Tel: 020 7332 1384

Website: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

 

 

THIS E-MAIL AND ANY ATTACHED FILES ARE CONFIDENTIAL AND MAY BE LEGALLY
PRIVILEGED. If you are not the addressee, any disclosure, reproduction,
copying, distribution or other dissemination or use of this communication
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error
please notify the sender immediately and then delete this e-mail.
Opinions, advice or facts included in this message are given without any
warranties or intention to enter into a contractual relationship with the
City of London unless specifically indicated otherwise by agreement,
letter or facsimile signed by a City of London authorised signatory. Any
part of this e-mail which is purely personal in nature is not authorised
by the City of London. All e-mail through the City of London's gateway is
potentially the subject of monitoring. All liability for errors and
viruses is excluded. Please note that in so far as the City of London
falls within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004, it may need to disclose this
e-mail. Website: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

References

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Dear City of London Corporation,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of City of London Corporation's handling of my FOI request 'City of London Pension Fund Investments'.

As I mentioned in the original request:

"I would like to receive this information in an unlocked excel sheet without protected cells (.xls). If you have to password protect the excel sheet, can you also provide the password to the excel sheet. When considering the request for this data in excel format, please refer to Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 (ii), which allows a requestor to express a preference for communication by a particular means, specifically: "an applicant's right to choose to have information provided to him in electronic form extends to a right to choose the software format in which it is embodied." (iii)

The document you provided/linked to in your response are a pdf. The investment data specifically is on page 103 of the pdf you provided

Please can you provide the information I originally requested, but in an excel sheet? As the above mentioned FOI rulings mention, I have a right to choose the software format for the information I request. Please also make sure that any excel sheet you release, covers all of the questions I asked for in the original request.

(ii) Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/...

(iii) Section 11 FOIA and the Form of a Request https://panopticonblog.com/2014/08/01/se...

You have also only provided the investments in the pooled vehicles/funds in the pdf you gave on page 103, not the investments of those funds themselves. Pooled vehicles and their fund managers can furnish you with that detailed discrete information. Here is an example where originally Sutton Pension Fund only provided pooled vehicles but they then demanded the full disclosure from fund managers and got the full information.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l...

Can you please provide a detailed breakdown of the Pension Funds investments in this way? Many other local authority pension funds release the full investment holdings of all of their fund managers. in this way - I can provide more examples on request?

I want to expand on the public interest case in releasing the information I requested.

In Department of Health (DoH) v Information Commissioner (EA/2008/0018) the tribunal quoted advice produced by the Office for Government Commerce (now government Procurement Services) on transparency and public interest factors relating to procurement. It stated:

“There is a strong public interest in showing who public money is being spent with, how much public money is being spent on a particular service or good, and how the supplier arrived at the price that is being charged”

Information that helps the public evaluate and scrutinise government procurement decisions – such as the full and current investment information of City of London Pension Fund – is therefore likely to warrant disclosure.

There is a clear and compelling public interest in disclosing information about the spending – and investing - of public money and this is recognised by the Information Commissioner. In Freedom of information Act Awareness Guidance No 5, Commercial Interests, (Version3, 6 March 2008) he states this “will be equally true whether a public authority is purchasing goods or services or responsible for awarding grants to private sector companies.”

The guidance note adds: “Transparency of decisions on how public funds are spent will also generate confidence in the integrity of the procedures involved. Where a public authority is purchasing goods or services there is a public interest in ensuring it gets value for money. This is particularly relevant at a time when there is public debate around the increasing role private companies have in delivering public services.”

As City of London Corporation hires private fund managers to oversee their Pension Fund, the above quote is very relevant.

Moreover, there is also a public interest in disclosing some commercially sensitive information about private companies that is held by public authorities, especially when it would protect the public. The ICO states:

“In the course of its role as a regulator, a public authority may hold information on the quality of products or on the conduct of private companies. There would be strong public interest arguments in allowing access to information which would help protect the public from unsafe products or dubious practices, even though this might involve revealing information that is likely to harm the commercial interests of a company.”

Without the public knowing exactly how the City of London Corporation/City of London Pension Fund currently invests its money in 2020, how can the public judge whether “unsafe products” are being invested in or if “dubious practices” are taking place?

Finally, the Ministry of Justice's Freedom of Information exemptions guidance: Section 43 – Commercial interests (14 May 2008) provides general guidance as to when commercial information should be disclosed. Information should be released where disclosure would ensure:

“there is transparency in the accountability of public funds; there is proper scrutiny of government actions in carrying out licensing functions in accordance with published policy; public money is being used effectively and that departments are getting value for money, departments' commercial activities, including the procurement process, are conducted in an open and honest way.”

All of this clearly applies to your pension fund, and warrants full disclosure of the portfolio funds/fund managers underlying/discrete investments.

Yours faithfully,

Edward Jones

COL-EB-InformationOfficer, City of London Corporation

Dear Edward Jones,

The City of London (CoL) acknowledges receipt of your complaint of 16 September 2020, below.

In accordance with guidance published by the Information Commissioner’s Office, the CoL aims to respond to complaints within 20 working days beginning from the first working day following receipt of the complaint.

Yours sincerely,

Information Officer
Comptroller & City Solicitor’s Department
City of London
Tel: 020-7332 1243
www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

show quoted sections

CHB - FOI, City of London Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear Edward Jones,

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 (FOIA) - Complaint

 

Following your complaint of 16 September 2020, and our acknowledgement 24
June 2020, regarding our FOIA response of 13 July 2020 to your requests
of 24 June 2020 and 10 August 2020, please find our independent assessment
of your complaint, compiled from the information made available to us, as
follows.

 

Your requests of 24 June 2020 and 10 August 2020 asked for the following
information:

 

“1) The full details of what the City of London Pension Fund currently
invests in, including the name and amounts of each asset class or 
investment being held.

 

2) The investments broken down into different categories/types of holding,
including: Index Linked Securities, Unit trust Property, Cash
Instruments,  Unit Trust Equities, Infrastructure, Fixed Interest
Securities, Equities  Segregated Unlisted, Equities Segregated UK,
Equities Segregated Foreign  as well as any other investments that the
Pension Fund holds.

 

3) The industrial sector of each investment e.g. Aerospace & Defence, Oil
& Gas Producers, Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology, Media, Banks, Mining, 
Government, Automobiles, Financial Services, Housing and any other
sectors  that the Pension Fund holds investments in. Examples of Pension
Funds which have previously included this data in their publicly released 
investments include Buckinghamshire and Derbyshire. (i)

 

4) A full list of all the companies which the Pension Fund currently
invests in (this should be covered in the above requests). This list 
should include the names of each company and the amount invested in each 
company.

 

5) Can you clearly specify the total value of all investments that the
Pension Fund holds in sterling.”

 

 

You were provided with the CoL Pension Fund Alternative Investment Market
holdings at 31 March 2020, together with a copy of the Pension Fund Annual
Report for 2018/19. You were also informed that:

“The accounts for 2019/20 are being prepared and will be available for
public inspection at this link:
[1]https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/about-us....

 

The CoL publishes information in order to obviate the requirement for
enquiries under the FOIA in the expectation that interested parties will
avail themselves of this information.

 

Prior to your subsequent enquiry of 10 August 2020, the accounts for
2019/20 were indeed published as stated and made available for public
inspection by interested parties such as yourself.

 

Our reply of 1 September 2020 restated the link to the CoL public facing
website and also provided a pdf copy of these accounts. In addition, the
CoL confirmed that “ the CoL pension fund exited direct equity investments
in 2014/15 and now invests via pooled vehicles as set out in the attached
accounts”.

 

We can confirm that the CoL does not uphold your complaint concerning the
FOIA response. We note that the CoL is not required to provide information
in a requested format under the FOIA 2000, where the information has
already been made publicly accessible. However, in this instance, this
information has been transferred onto an excel spreadsheet. This has been
appended to this  further response on the understanding that you are
potentially not able to extract this publicly available information in a
format most suited to your requirements.

 

We hope this independent assessment of your complaint regarding your FOIA
response has been helpful. However, if you have any queries or concerns,
please contact us.

 

If you are still dissatisfied, you may request the Information
Commissioner to investigate. The Information Commissioner is a Crown
appointment, responsible for monitoring compliance with the FOIA. Please
contact: Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF. Telephone: (01625) 545700. Website: [2]www.ico.org.uk

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Access to Information Network Representative

Chamberlain's Department

City of London

Tel: 020 7332 1384

Website: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

 

 

 

THIS E-MAIL AND ANY ATTACHED FILES ARE CONFIDENTIAL AND MAY BE LEGALLY
PRIVILEGED. If you are not the addressee, any disclosure, reproduction,
copying, distribution or other dissemination or use of this communication
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error
please notify the sender immediately and then delete this e-mail.
Opinions, advice or facts included in this message are given without any
warranties or intention to enter into a contractual relationship with the
City of London unless specifically indicated otherwise by agreement,
letter or facsimile signed by a City of London authorised signatory. Any
part of this e-mail which is purely personal in nature is not authorised
by the City of London. All e-mail through the City of London's gateway is
potentially the subject of monitoring. All liability for errors and
viruses is excluded. Please note that in so far as the City of London
falls within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004, it may need to disclose this
e-mail. Website: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

References

Visible links
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2. http://www.ico.org.uk/