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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
FTSE pensions gap 'remains high'
Money falling through hands
Employers have been paying more money into schemes
The black hole in the UK's largest company pensions shrank by just 1bn during the past year, a report says.

The combined pension fund deficit of all FTSE 100 companies fell from 37bn to 36bn in the year to July, said actuary firm Lane, Clark and Peacock.

Record contributions from employers and stock market growth have done little to close the pension deficit.

Nevertheless, FTSE 100 companies are on track to clear their deficits by 2012, the actuary firm added.

Despite exceptional stock market returns and record company contributions, the overall pension deficit for the FTSE 100 has barely changed
Bob Scott, Lane, Clark and Peacock

Overall, out of 100 company schemes reviewed, just five were in surplus: Associated British Foods, Gallaher Group, Johnson Matthey, Old Mutual and Schroders.

At the other end of the scale, three companies - British Airways, BAE Systems and ICI - were identified as having a pension deficit equivalent to at least 30% of their market value.

Record contributions

Over the past 12 months, companies collectively paid a record 12.1bn into their employee pension schemes, the actuary firm said.

The companies making the biggest contributions into their own schemes were HSBC, Royal Dutch Shell and GlaxoSmithKline.

A total of eight companies in the FTSE 100 had paid more into their pension schemes than to shareholders.

And two thirds of firms reviewed could - if they chose - close their pensions deficit from spare cash.

But the overall impression painted by the report is of firms running to stand still, as far as closing their pension scheme deficits is concerned.

"Despite exceptional stock market returns and record company contributions, the overall pension deficit for the FTSE 100 has barely changed," Bob Scott, partner at Lane, Clark and Peacock, said.

However, Mr Scott added that the burden of extra regulation could force management to close more final salary pension schemes to staff in future.




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