Friday, June 23, 2006

THE END OF RETIREMENT (Top 10 Companies with Pension Deficits)

Motley Fool

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Goodbye, pensions ... unless you're the CEO We all know that thousands of pensions are underfunded. We've heard the tales of people who dedicated their lives to a company, only to see it slip into bankruptcy and take all of its retiree benefits with it. The Frontline program rightly started off by discussing the demise of the traditional pension -- it focused on current and former employees of United Airlines (Nasdaq: UAUA), which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002 and dumped its pension plans on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. When the government-sponsored PBGC takes over your plan, you'll still receive pension benefits, but only a fraction of what you would have received if your company had stayed in business. (The PBGC itself, by the way, is $23 billion underfunded.)

But the real shocker in the Frontline program was the revelation of how such bankruptcies are becoming an acceptable way for companies to get out of their pension obligations. Listen to what United's lead bankruptcy lawyer, James H.A. Sprayregen, told Frontline: "I would say that Chapter 11 has become somewhat of a more accepted strategic tool than just companies filing who are about to go out of business or something like that. As a result, there's more use of Chapter 11 now than probably 20 years ago."

So should you be worried if your pension is underfunded? Well, according to a recent report from Standard & Poor's, corporate America doesn't seem to be taking pension funding too seriously. From the 2005 "Pensions & Other Post Employment Benefits Report": "While corporate operating earnings post 16 consecutive quarters of double-digit growth, corporate pension plans remain in the red with minimal contributions continuing to be made. ... S&P 500 defined-benefit plans as a group were $140.4 billion underfunded for 2005." ........

1 comment:

Milu said...

Good news here.
Greatings!


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