UK’s Whitbread sticks by final salary scheme

UK – Leisure group Whitbread says it will continue to fund its 2.2 billion euro final salary pension for up to 15 years.

The company said in a statement that it has made an agreement with Whitbread Pension Trustees Ltd., under which it undertakes to continue to fund the scheme for a period of up to 15 years.

It said the move “provides reassurance to scheme members that the company will continue to act positively to fulfil its pension obligations”. It closed the scheme to new entrants in January 2002.

It estimates that the schemes had a post-tax deficit of 294 million pounds (427.4 million euros) under FRS17 accounting rules as at March 1 2003.

The company said that there would be no change to the profit and loss account as a result of the agreement for each of the three financial years until the scheme’s next valuation in March 2005.

Whitbread’s chairman Sir John Banham said: “By taking these prudent steps now we are protecting our shareholders' interests by avoiding the immediate need for a major capital payment into the fund.

“We have also safeguarded the interests of fund members who are essential to the future success of the company.”

The scheme has a long way before it reaches maturity, with the company saying that it will be around 25 years before the average active fund member reaches pensionable age.

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