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Philips sees E1.2bn saving from pension agreement

NETHERLANDS – Dutch electronics giant Philips predicts a 1.2 billion-euro cut in benefit obligations – as well as ongoing savings – as a result of a shift to average-salary pensions agreed earlier this year.

Koninklijke Philips Electronics reached an agreement in principle with Dutch trade unions on January 30 - which the company said was ratified by the union and the trustees of the Philips Pension Fund on March 31.

“The agreed change from a final-pay to an average-pay pension system in the Netherlands, which incorporates a limitation of the indexation, results in a reduction of the company’s projected benefit obligation by 766 million euros effective the end of March 2004,” the company said.

And the transfer of existing pension obligations into a pre-pensioning fund would lead to a further reduction of projected benefit obligations of 468 million euros. There would be a corresponding reduction of pension plan assets of 480 million euros.

“After these changes, total plan assets for the Netherlands amounted to 12.4 billion euros and the total projected benefit obligation for the Netherlands was approximately 11.1 billion euros per the end of the first quarter of 2004,” Philips said in an earnings release.

The new agreement would result in around 36 million euros of pension cost savings a quarter.

The company said the agreement, which affects current and former employees, would mean “a more balanced distribution of pension burdens between the company and its employees”.

Philips reported first-quarter net income was 550 million euros, compared with a loss of 69 million euros a year earlier.

“As we proceed through 2004, we’ll need to begin gradually shifting the emphasis from repairing and regrouping, to building and expanding our company,” said president and chief executive Gerard Kleisterlee.

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