Golden Wonder to seek PPF aid
UK – The £40m (€58m) final salary pension fund of snacks maker Golden Wonder – which went into administration yesterday - will most likely call for assistance from the Pension Protection Fund.
Fund trustee Paul Wilson told IPE: “Subject to what is going to happen to the company, it the_scheme is likely to do so.” The scheme has approximately 1,730 members.
Reports state that the financial collapse of Golden Wonder – blamed in part on strong competition from rival Walkers - puts roughly 850 jobs at stake.
Scottish Power also announced plans this week to close its £2.4bn final salary scheme to new members, and increase employee contribution rates by 2% over four years at 0.5% per year.
A staff report stated: “Like the schemes of all big companies, Scottish Power’s is under increasing funding pressure as people live longer and investment returns slow.”
The energy giant – with a “relatively modest” £150m pension fund deficit - stated it would maintain final salary pensions for its current 7,600 staff, and proposed the introduction of a money purchase scheme for new employees from April.
It also proposed increased funding to the existing scheme to clear the deficit in five years, and introducing tax efficient plans allowing staff to take advantage of new Pensions Simplification legislation due in April.
A Scottish Power spokesperson dismissed union claims that the scheme closure was an attempt to “prime the company for sale” in a bid to gain lucrative share options as “nonsense”.
“It the_closure is to secure the current scheme and offer new entrants an attractive and competitive pension package in line with what the vast majority of companies are doing,” he told IPE.
In other news, lingerie manufacturer, the Sherwood Group, has been given approval for a share buy-back by the Pensions Regulator provided certain obligations are met regarding its final salary scheme.
These include an “immediate” £7.5m cash injection and six additional monthly payments of £40,000 until 30 June 2006.
The group will enter into discussions with shareholders on whether to proceed with the buy-back following the release of these conditions.