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BASF shifts €3.76bn in liabilities

Chemical giant BASF has announced that it will remove €3.7bn in pension liabilities from its balance sheet and fund them via a contractural trust arrangement (CTA) by the end of 2005.
BASF says the move, which was cleared by its supervisory board today, would improve the “international comparability of its financial reporting”.
“BASF will use its high liquidity position to finance the CTA with the necessary assets. The company will still retain its financial strength to develop further its portfolio profitably, continue a shareholder-oriented dividend policy and re-purchase shares,” the firm said.
A spokesman says the €3.7bn in pension liabilities were mainly related to BASF employees in Germany. BASF Pensionskasse, the firm’s traditional pension fund, is not affected by the revamp.
According to industry experts, the next steps in constructing a CTA include the compilation of an asset-liability study, a new strategic asset allocation and a search for new asset managers.
According to BASF’s 2004 annual report, the asset allocation for the firm’s pension assets - including those from BASF Pensionskasse - was 45% equity, 44% bonds and 9% real estate.
BASF is the latest German multi-national to embrace a CTA for its pension liabilities amid the switch to new international accounting standards. Since last spring, CTAs have been set up at media giant Bertelsmann, engineering group MAN and energy group E.ON.

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