ALMOST 10% OF FTSE 250 COMPANIES ARE VICTIMS OF A PENSION DRAG

03 April 2017

23 FTSE 250 companies are faltering under a worrying amount of pension debt, according to a report by JLT Employee Benefits (‘JLT’), one of the UK's leading pension and employee benefit consultancies. This equates to 9% of the index’s constituents.

The research found that 23 FTSE 250 companies would need a payment of more than two years’ dividends in order to settle their defined benefit (DB) pension deficits in full, which is worth £4.7bn collectively. Meanwhile 12 companies would need a payment of up to two years’ dividends to settle their pension deficits in full and 56 companies could have settled their pension deficits in full with a payment of up to one year’s dividend.

Another measure of financial risk posed by DB pension liabilities is its size relative to the company’s equity market value. Twenty FTSE 250 companies have total disclosed pension liabilities greater than their equity market value. For The Go-Ahead Group, total disclosed pension liabilities are more than four times their equity market value.

Charles Cowling, Director, JLT Employee Benefits, comments: “While these metrics don’t capture the entire picture, they are a useful indicator of the pension drag on the sponsoring company. High levels of debts can severely constrain a company’s ability to invest in vital research and development, upgrade its operations and hire skilled staff, affecting its competitiveness and long term prospects. As Brexit has increased the uncertainty around trade regulations and tariffs, being highly competitive is a key success factor.

“Shareholders are increasingly aware of the potential disruption that a massive pension scheme can cause to a business and it should be expected that it will weigh the share price down.

“While 9% may not seem a lot, the situation in the FTSE 250 is much more serious than in the FTSE 100 which has only a couple of companies with such a pension burden.”

“To deal with this, companies should firstly take every opportunity to stop these deficits and liabilities getting larger, and secondarily they should put a plan in place in reduce the size of their pension scheme.”

As at 30 June 2016 the total deficit in FTSE 250 pension schemes is estimated to be £11 billion. Only 41 companies disclosed a pension surplus in their most recent annual report and accounts; 91 companies disclosed pension deficits.

In the last 12 months, the total disclosed pension liabilities of the FTSE 250 companies have remained approximately at £81 billion. A total of 26 companies have disclosed pension liabilities of more than £1 billion, the largest of which is FirstGroup with disclosed pension liabilities of £4.05 billion. A total of 156 companies have disclosed pension liabilities of less than £100 million, of which 118 companies have no defined benefit pension liabilities.

Access the report 'The FTSE250 and their pension disclosures'

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ENQUIRIES:

JLT

Corinne Gladstone, PR Manager, JLT Group | T: +44 (0)20 7895 7705 | M: +44 (0)7799 340658 | E: corinne_gladstone@jltgroup.com

NOTES TO EDITORS:

About Jardine Lloyd Thompson

Jardine Lloyd Thompson is one of the world’s leading providers of insurance, reinsurance and employee benefits related advice, brokerage and associated services. JLT’s client proposition is built upon its deep specialist knowledge, client advocacy, tailored advice and service excellence.

JLT is quoted on the London Stock Exchange and owns offices in 41 countries with more than 10,600 employees. Supported by the JLT International Network, it offers risk management and employee benefit solutions in 135 countries.

For further information about JLT, please visit our website www.jlt.com.

About JLT Employee Benefits

JLT Employee Benefits is one of the UK’s leading employee benefit providers offering a wide range of benefit and pension services, including administration, actuarial, pension and investment consultancy, wealth management, flexible benefits, healthcare, benefit communication and financial education.

JLT Employee Benefits employs over 2,200 professionals and in 2016 had revenues of £160 m in UK & Ireland.

Pensions and employee benefits companies within the JLT Employee Benefits group of companies include: JLT Benefit Solutions Ltd, Profund Solutions Limited, JLT Wealth Management Limited, JLT Investment Management Limited and Independent Trustee Services Limited. JLT Employee Benefits is part of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group plc. www.jlteb.com