UK - The UK's Accounting Standards Board has unveiled new requirements in a bid to improve the disclosure of pensions information - although some observers said it was a "disclosure too far".

It is recommending that firms disclose the buy-out amount where it has already been disclosed to members and/or trustees.

"In principle you can't argues against more disclosure but the buyout figure will be a big scary number," said Kevin Wesbroom of Hewitt Associates.

The ASB said the new Reporting Statement, ‘Retirement Benefits - Disclosures', is "designed to promote greater transparency in the financial reporting of pension schemes".

The statement is a non-mandatory "best practice" and may be applied by any entity that operates a defined benefit scheme.

The disclosures complement the disclosure requirements of the mandatory FRS17 standard.

They "aim to assist the users of financial statements in understanding the risks and rewards and funding obligations arising from defined benefit (DB) pension schemes".

They set out six principles to be considered when providing disclosures:

- The relationship between the entity and trustees (managers) of scheme
- The principal assumptions used to measure scheme liabilities
- The sensitivity of the principal assumptions used to measure scheme liabilities
- How the liabilities are measured
- The future funding obligations in relation to DB scheme
- The nature and extent of the risks arising from financial instruments held by the defined benefit scheme

The ASB says it reviewed DB disclosures in light of concerns expressed by commentators, including investors, that financial statements did not contain sufficient information to allow users to adequately assess the risks.

The publication of the Reporting Statement is due in January 2007.

But Hewitt's Wesbroom said he fears the extra disclosures will only be of benefit to companies looking to acquire other companies.

"I don't think it's been well thought through," he said, although he acknowledged the requirement to disclosure mortality assumptions was a good thing.