Sunday 25 August 2019

INM says no plan to pay dividends after closing down pension scheme

Last week Mr Buckley led a stormy EGM where members of the DB schemes strongly opposed the passing of two resolutions aimed at cleaning up INM’s balance sheet. Photo: Mark Condren
Last week Mr Buckley led a stormy EGM where members of the DB schemes strongly opposed the passing of two resolutions aimed at cleaning up INM’s balance sheet. Photo: Mark Condren
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

Independent News & Media (INM) has discussed proposals with trustees following its recent decision to close its defined benefit pension schemes, insisting its closure will not improve the cash position of the company.

Older members of INM's defined benefit (DB) pensions schemes could see their expected retirement income maintained at up to 90pc of their restructured pensions under the proposal.

INM, which publishes independent.ie and the country's leading newspapers including the Irish Independent and 'Sunday Independent', has faced criticism amid claims that it was seeking to walk away from the defined benefit pension schemes, which the company's management said is unsustainable.

Without extra funding, plans to wind up the schemes would have seen future pensioners lose 30pc of their expected retirement income.

The pensions of hundreds of DB members had already been cut by some 40pc in 2013 when INM restructured its schemes.

A statement from INM last night makes it clear that company management and board were behind the proposed pension changes - and not shareholders like businessmen Denis O'Brien and Dermot Desmond.

"The shareholders in INM have had no involvement with or any say in the company's pension plans or indeed any decisions in relation to pensions.

"This is a matter solely for the board and the management of the company."

Referring to the shareholders the media company statement said "an important point that has been overlooked is that the shareholders in INM transferred 5pc of the shares in the company to the pension funds in 2013. The value of this transfer to the pension funds was €8.14m".

Talks were held last Friday between management and the trustees, who have asked INM to contribute €12m into replacement DB schemes and give special consideration to members aged 62 and over.

Last night, the company confirmed it had met with the trustees who will today meet with the Pensions Authority.

INM's board, chaired by Leslie Buckley, meets on Thursday.

In the statement, INM moved to address what it described as some "inaccurate" media comment.

"It is not and never has been the intention of Independent News & Media to renege on the agreement with the pension trustees in 2013," said the company.

"INM has and will continue to make a significant pension funding contribution of €11.1m per annum from 2013 to 2023. The total investment across both the defined benefit and defined contribution schemes since 2013 is €35m. The total projected investment from 2013 to 2023 is circa €115m.

"Any funding being made under the defined benefit schemes will continue to be made to the defined contribution scheme."

Last week Mr Buckley led a stormy EGM where members of the DB schemes strongly opposed the passing of two resolutions aimed at cleaning up INM's balance sheet.

Irish Independent

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