Private Equity Compliance with ERISA: Fiduciary Duties in Managing ERISA Plan Assets

Impact of Sun Capital on Pension Withdrawal Liability; Other New Developments

Recording of a 90-minute premium CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will prepare counsel representing private equity funds and private equity professionals to meet the challenges under ERISA that apply to fund managers who are responsible for investing the assets of a fund that holds ERISA plan assets. The program will cover the impact on private equity firms of the Sun Capital ruling and other recent case law discussing certain joint and several liabilities under ERISA plans.


ERISA imposes fiduciary obligations on funds that hold employee benefit plan assets, including private equity managers responsible for investing fund assets. In order to avoid being a fiduciary of plan assets, funds should structure their investments to comply with an exemption to the plan asset rules.

In addition, certain ERISA plans carry significant joint and several liabilities for all companies that are part of a “controlled group” under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA. Funds should identify such ERISA plans in due diligence prior to purchasing a portfolio company that sponsors such a plan and structure their investments to minimize the risk that these liabilities will become liabilities of the fund.

Listen as our authoritative panel of finance attorneys discusses the fiduciary obligations under ERISA that apply to private equity fund managers responsible for investing the assets of a fund that holds ERISA plan assets. The panel will focus on the duty to avoid prohibited transactions, Sun Capital and other relevant case law, and implications of the recent overturning of the fiduciary rule.



  1. ERISA fiduciary duties applicable to private equity managers
    1. Exceptions available to private equity funds
    2. Penalties and personal liability under ERISA
  2. Joint and several liability under ERISA
  3. Sun Capital impact on structuring investments with pension obligations


The panel will review these and other crucial issues:

  • What fiduciary duties does ERISA impose on private equity managers who invest fund assets that hold ERISA plan assets?
  • How can fund managers take advantage of the exceptions to the ERISA plan asset rule?
  • What types of ERISA plans carry joint and several liability?
  • What are the implications of the Sun Capital ruling and other recent case law on private equity funds and their portfolio companies?


O’Brien, Maureen
Maureen O'Brien

McDermott Will & Emery

Ms. O'Brien advises clients on a broad range of employee benefits matters, including qualified plan design,...  |  Read More

Urwitz, Joseph
Joseph K. Urwitz

McDermott Will & Emery

Mr. Urwitz focuses his practice on employee benefits, executive compensation and ERISA fiduciary matters. He advises...  |  Read More

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