UK - Gas supplier BOC is to close its £1bn final salary scheme to new entrants from the end of June and replace it with a money purchase scheme.
Earlier this year BOC blamed a £24m drop in its profits on increased liabilities in its pension fund and ended its contributions holiday by committing to pay a total of £33m into the fund in 2003.
The closure has sparked a row between BOC and trade unions over the length of consultation given to employees on the issue.
BOC group human resources director Rob Lourey said: “We started consulting with key stakeholders last week and informed our union friends last Thursday.”
He added: “Early feedback has been pretty reasonable. It is not a money-saving exercise, it is about shifting risk.”
But the T&G union said it only learned of the internal consultation process on Monday and that it was seeking an urgent meeting with the company to discuss the scheme’s closure.
T&G assistant general secretary Jimmy Elsby said: “Once again we see a blue-chip British company trying to sort out its problems by transferring the risks of future pensions provision to its workers.”
The final salary scheme has 10,000 current members, 11,000 pensioners and 5000 to 7000 deferred members.
The scheme has 78.6% invested in equities, 19.8% in bonds and 1.6% in other asset classes.
The Co-operative Group's Somerfield Pension Scheme has completed a buy-in with Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC), insuring the benefits of its pensioner members.
Caroline Rookes CBE and Michele Hirons-Wood have joined The Pension Superfund's board of trustees to focus on maintaining governance standards and safeguarding member benefits.
The first specialist independent firm advising pension schemes on bulk annuities or moving to a consolidator has been set up with ambitions to shake up the market.