FRANCE – Gaz de France says its pension liabilities are limited to €1.625bn following the implementation of France’s pension reform.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said the company’s rating and outlook was unchanged after the disclosure.

“Following the implementation on January 1 2005 of the financial reform of the French pension scheme, the company’s pension liabilities in this respect are limited to a total of €1.625bn at December 31 2004 (against €14.8bn in the absence of this reform),” the firm said in an earnings statement.

The “resolution of questions related to the financing of pensions and supplementary health insurance” was one of the key elements of the report.

S&P said its AA/Negative/A-1+ ratings were unchanged after the news, which was “in line with expectations”.

It said: “Taking into account the existing externalized pension insurance cover, GDF's funding deficit for pension and other post-employment obligations is therefore expected to be only €700m in 2005.”

GDF’s net income rose 14.9% to €1bn with an 8.9% rise in net sales “driven by sustained sales growth in France and Europe”.