BELGIUM – The European Commission has cleared the transfer of Belgacom’s 3.6 billion-euro pension fund to the Belgian state, saying the move does not involve state aid.

“Today, the European Commission decided that the transfer of pension obligations for Belgacom's statutory employees to the Belgian State does not involve state aid,” the Commission said.

“The transfer is financially neutral because Belgacom in exchange for transferring its pension obligations to the Belgian state - pays the latter an amount corresponding to the net present value (NPV) of the obligations taken over by the Belgian State.”

The Commission said it was satisfied that the net present value of the pension liabilities, as carried out by an independent actuarial advisor, reflect the true value of the accrued pension liabilities.

“The Commission found no reason to question the assumptions underlying these calculations.” It said it was satisfied that the discount rate used to determine the net present value of the pension obligations “was made with reference to market rates and based on international accounting standards”.

“On that basis the Commission concluded that the envisaged sale of its pension obligations does not give Belgacom an advantage beyond that which would have been available under normal market conditions.

“A transfer of pension obligations under normal market conditions does not amount to State aid.”