German companies with pension fund shortfalls are more at risk of seeing their credit ratings come under pressure than companies in other European countries, according to a report from Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in London, that claims pensions obligations to have debt-like characteristics.
Dresdner analysed the pension fund status of 47 companies that issue bonds, finding only six to have fully funded schemes. The biggest funding shortfalls were found in German companies with significant foreign operations. In the German system, companies are not required to hold any specific assets against pension obligations. With foreign operations they need to fund pension liabilities.
Out of the 47 companies surveyed, General Motors Corporation and German companies RWE, Volkswagen and E.ON had the most significant pension funds shortfalls.