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News & Policy

PBGC To Protect Pensions at Liam Ventures

March 31, 2005

WASHINGTON-The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation today announced it is moving to assume responsibility for the underfunded pension plan sponsored by Liam Ventures Inc., a privately owned holding company with headquarters in Chicago. Liam Ventures is the successor firm to Farley Inc., which acquired a network of companies through junk-bond financing in the 1980's.

The pension plan covers about 4,400 workers and retirees of Farley Metals, Magnus, and other metals companies controlled by Liam Ventures. The companies' operations in Statesville, N.C., Toledo, Ohio, and Pottstown, Pa., are closed; 77 active workers are employed at a Liam Ventures facility in Fremont, Neb.

The PBGC estimates that the pension plan is 22 percent funded. The last time Liam contributed any money to the pension was for the 1998 plan year. The plan has paid out roughly $55 million in benefits from the beginning of 1999 through the end of 2003. Liam also has failed to make more than $31 million in legally required contributions.

"The PBGC will protect the pension benefits of Liam Ventures' workers and retirees up to the limits set by law," said Executive Director Bradley Belt. "Retirees will continue to receive monthly benefit checks without interruption, and other workers will receive benefits when they become eligible."

The pension plan, called Retirement Programs of Liam Ventures Inc., has about $39 million in assets to cover roughly $175 million in benefit promises. The PBGC expects to be responsible for $133 million of the $136 million shortfall. The pension plan will end as of March 31, 2005.

Until the PBGC becomes trustee of the pension plans, the plans remain ongoing under company sponsorship. The agency will send notification letters to all plan participants when it becomes trustee.

Under federal pension law, the maximum guaranteed pension at age 65 for participants in plans that terminate in 2005 is $45,613 per year. The maximum guaranteed amount is lower for those who retire earlier or elect survivor benefits. In addition, certain early retirement subsidies and benefit increases made within the past five years may not be fully guaranteed.

Workers and retirees with questions may consult the PBGC Web site, or call toll-free at 1-800-400-7242. For TTY/TDD users, call the federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask for 800-400-7242.

Liam Ventures retirees who draw a benefit from the PBGC may be eligible for the federal Health Coverage Tax Credit.

The PBGC is a federal corporation created under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. It currently guarantees payment of basic pension benefits earned by 44 million American workers and retirees participating in over 31,000 private-sector defined benefit pension plans. The agency receives no funds from general tax revenues. Operations are financed largely by insurance premiums paid by companies that sponsor pension plans and by investment returns.

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PBGC No. 05-32