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Smiths Group sees improved pensions surplus

UK - Smith Group, a specialist supplier of detection equipment for airport security, has more than doubled its funded pension schemes surpluses and pulled increased the value of its UK fund to almost £3bn (€4.5bn).

Details of final results issued today by Smiths reveal the company's UK funded pension scheme is currently valued at £2.97bn compared with £2.77bn in the same period in 2006, although the value of its US fund has slipped in value slightly from £332.8m to £327.6m.

Moreover, the UK fund has seen its surplus rise 173% on the previous 12 months from £140.3m to £331.5m, although unfunded plans and post-retirement healthcare liabilities has risen a fraction from £48.9m to £49.5m.

Its improved pensions funding position, under IAS19 accounting regulations, may have been helped in part by Smiths' disposal of its Aerospace operations to General Electric - a move which appears to have given the firm "pensions curtailment gains" of £63.3m, while there was also a further £9m net credit gain on pensions investments.

Disposal of Aerospace will generate additional costs of £23.4m in the coming financial year in relation to the transfer of active pensioners from Smiths Group's hybrid pension schemes - known individually as the Smiths Industries Pension Scheme (SIPS) and the TI Group Pension Scheme (TIGPS).

Retirement benefit assets on the company's consolidated balance sheet are listed as being worth £333.7m - a substantial gain from £183.7m during the same period last year - while its retirement benefit obligation liabilities have reduced from £235.8m last year to £150.1m.

The company's headline operating profit increased by £3m to £48m while its operating profit leapt from a loss of £8m in 2006 to £257m this year.

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