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IBM Austria pension chief steps down

AUSTRIA – IBM’s pension fund in Austria has disclosed that Axel Benesch has stepped down as its director.

The pension fund said management duties were now split between Richard Schwarz, a managing director, and Axel Frolik, chief financial officer.

It is not clear whether a direct replacement will be found for Benesch and the fund did not disclose the reason for his departure.

According to Pensionfundsonline.co.uk, the Vienna-based fund is an Austrian Pensionskasse with €500m in assets, 1,400 contributing members and 1,000 pensioners.

In 2005, another good year for equities, it and other Austrian Pensionskassen had an average return of 11.4%.

The departure of Benesch from IBM’s Austrian Pensionskasse comes against the backdrop of the US computer giant’s campaign to slash worldwide pension costs.

As 2006 began, IBM announced a freeze on its DB plan for US employees, which has an estimated $50bn (€41bn) in assets. Later in January, IBM announced proposed changes to its UK pension arrangements, including reductions in future benefits for DB-covered employees and an offer that those employees switch to DC.

Meanwhile in Germany, the computer giant wants to switch 11,000 employees there from DB schemes to a DC one in a bid to reduce pension costs by several hundred million euros.

IBM’s German Pensionskasse has €5.9bn in assets and is headed by Peter Thonet.

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