Sunday, July 8, 2012

GM: More firms to offload pensions

MetLife Inc. and Prudential are among insurers that expect the GM deal to encourage more corporations to offload plans. Pension liabilities exceed assets by more than $435 billion, according to a Bloomberg review of data disclosed by firms in the Russell 1000 Index of large U.S. companies. Greece, facing demands for austerity measures in exchange for rescue funds, had total debt of about $450 billion at the end of 2011.

There "may be a greater willingness to pull the trigger and execute a transaction," said Robin Lenna, executive vice president of MetLife's corporate benefit funding group. "They have a model. Somebody already did it in a big way."

"The pension world will forever remember this transaction as the beginning of the era of pension de-risking," said Dylan Tyson, head of pension risk transfer at Prudential, the No. 2 U.S. life insurer. "This is a market whose time has come."

Timken Co. is among firms that may follow GM's path. The maker of bearings has spoken with Prudential and other insurers about annuitizing its pensions, which have $2.6 billion in assets and $3.1 billion in liabilities, said Glenn Eisenberg, the Ohio-based company's executive vice president of finance and administration.

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Story Date: 06-20-12

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