UK - Sea-Land Service Pension Plan members are embroiled in a new row with shipping giant Maersk over the costs of winning up the £6.4m scheme.
The row flared after the shipping firm attempted to sweeten the pill of closing the scheme – which has a £3.5m deficit – by stressing that it would pay the £500,000 wind-up cost.
But actuaries claim the associated costs for winding-up a final salary scheme of this size should be less than the £500,000 stated.
But its is understood that moves by a firm to undercut these costs by £100,000 were thrown out at a trustee meeting.
Scheme members are furious and are demanding that the company comes clean over its accounts and the £500,000 wind-up figure.
Former Sea-Land employee Mark Tonge said: “It has never been made clear whether Maersk is offering to pay the wind-up costs because there is not enough money in the fund – in which case it is their prerogative to do so – or if this is a genuine gesture of good will.”
Maersk is using Mercer Human Resources Consulting as its actuary.
HighamNobbs Consulting partner Russell Agius agreed £500,000 seemed “very high” for a sub-£10m scheme.
And he pointed out that until earlier this year, legislation for solvent employers stated that schemes with liabilities up to £50m would incur a wind-up expense equal to 4% of liabilities.
For Maersk the likely cost for wind-up would be £400,000.
“Unless the scheme is very complex, the costs are unlikely to go beyond this figure,” he said.
But Mercer Human Resources Consulting partner Ian Eggleden warned against using “rule of thumb” methods to calculate wind-up costs.
“Some wind-ups might be cheaper than this 4%, but there are all sorts of reasons that it might be different, such as varying court costs.”
Maersk declined to comment.
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