UK - Cable & Wireless has reported an accounting deficit in its main UK defined benefit (DB) pension fund of £32m (€36.5m), compared to a surplus of £375m a year earlier.

The company attributed the decline in the funding position of the scheme to lower asset values, as the last triennial valuation of the scheme as of 31 March 2007, completed in March 2008, reported the scheme was "fully funded on an ongoing basis" following an additional £19m contribution from the firm.

In the final year figures for 2008/09, the telecoms firm reported that at 31 March 2009 the UK scheme had a deficit of £32m, while unfunded liabilities in the UK amounted to £19m, and the IAS19 deficit in other DB schemes operated by Cable & Wireless remained stable at £7m.

Tim Pennington, group finance director at C&W, confirmed the deficit was mainly the result of lower asset values, stating, "clearly pension funding valuations are bounding around with the volatility in equities".

However, he told attendees at the results presentation that the "buy-in" of pensioner liabilities with Prudential in July 2008 accounted for 50% of the UK DB scheme's assets, leaving just 31% in equities and the remaining 19% in bonds, property, swaps and cash. (See earlier IPE article: Cable & Wireless agrees first £1bn 'buy-in')

"Furthermore, these assets relate to active and deferred members, those still working, so there is plenty of time to recover any further falls in equity valuations, if there are any," added Pennington.

The pension fund had £2bn in assets in September 2008.

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