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IBM declines comment on talk about UK scheme

UK – IBM’s top UK pensions executive has declined to comment on talk that the company’s is considering options – including wind-up - for its C-Plan scheme, part of its 3.5 billion-pound (5.1 billion-euro) UK pension arrangements.

“I’m not interested in talking to you, I’m afraid,” said UK pensions manager David Newman. He did not respond to email enquiries. The scheme, a contributory section of the IBM Pension Plan which provides defined benefits, closed to new members in January 1997.

According to an IBM staff pensions web site, there are “reasonably well-sourced” hints that IBM UK's human resources department is actively considering options for the C-Plan.

And scheme trustee Brian Marks told the website - in a personal capacity - that the options included windup. Another option was to force employed members to turn their already earned pension rights into a deferred pension and letting them earn no more C-Plan rights. Marks was not immediately contactable.

A spokesman for scheme actuary Watson Wyatt declined to comment.

The 2003 annual report of the scheme said the computer giant’s “current intention” was to continue to support the plan. “The Trustee has welcomed this positive confirmation from the company,” it added.

The news comes as it has emerged that Kevin Waller has left his role as pension services manager at IBM UK Pensions Trust to join the firm’s HR department.

According to the scheme’s annual report, the plan grew by 488 million pounds in 2003 to 3.544 billion pounds. But it said: “However, with reduced asset values and increased liabilities the fund now has a large deficit.”

The 2003 actuarial valuation is currently being prepared and will be available in the fourth quarter of 2004.

IBM fired Aon Consulting as scheme actuary in December 2003 and appointed Watson Wyatt as actuarial and investment advisers. “The role of the trustee continues to become more complex and in selecting Watson Wyatt the Trustee will have the very best possible advice available to it.”

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