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PBGC Assumes Pope & Talbot Inc. Pension Plan

October 22, 2008

WASHINGTON-The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) today announced it has assumed responsibility for the pensions of 1,370 U.S. workers and retirees of Pope & Talbot Inc., a pulp and lumber company based in Portland, Ore.

The PBGC stepped in because the underfunded Pope & Talbot Inc. Pension Plan would be unable to pay benefits when due and faced abandonment following the company’s bankruptcy liquidation.

Pope & Talbot retirees will continue to receive their monthly benefit checks without interruption, and other workers will receive their pensions when they are eligible to retire.

The PBGC estimates that the plan is 92 percent funded, with $57.5 million in assets to cover $62.3 million in benefit liabilities. The agency expects to be responsible for $3.7 million of the $4.8 million shortfall.

The agency will take over the assets and use insurance funds to pay guaranteed benefits earned under the plan, which ended as of May 9, 2008. The PBGC became trustee of the plan on Oct.1, 2008. Assumption of the plan's unfunded liabilities will have no material effect on the PBGC's financial statements, according to generally accepted accounting principles.

Founded in 1849, Pope & Talbot had eight mills in British Columbia, Oregon and South Dakota. On Oct. 29, 2007, the company and its affiliates sought creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act in Canada, and then filed for Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., on Nov. 19, 2007. Liquidation proceedings began on May 9, 2008.
Within the next several weeks, the PBGC will send notification letters to all plan participants. Under provisions of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, the maximum guaranteed pension the PBGC can pay is determined by the legal limits in force on the date of the plan sponsor's bankruptcy. Therefore participants in the Pope & Talbot Inc. Pension Plan are subject to the limits in effect on Nov. 19, 2007, which set a maximum guaranteed amount of $49,500 for a 65-year-old. 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.

Retirees of Pope & Talbot who draw a benefit from the PBGC may be eligible for the federal Health Coverage Tax Credit. Further information may be found on the PBGC Web site at

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 30,000 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. 09-01