The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the “PBGC”) launched a Pilot Mediation Project in October 2017 to provide plan sponsors an opportunity to negotiate resolutions in Early Warning Program cases and in termination liability cases (see our prior post). Following its trial run, the PBGC announced last month that it would make the Mediation Program
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the “PBGC”) launched a new Pilot Mediation Project to facilitate negotiations with (i) plan sponsors involved in corporate transactions under the purview of the PBGC’s Early Warning Program and (ii) the former plan sponsors of terminated pension plans that are subject to termination liability for the plans’ unfunded benefit liabilities.
As we previously noted (https://www.erisapracticecenter.com/2013/04/28/pbgc-seeks-involuntary-plan-termination-before-plan-sponsors-proposed-share-sale/), the PBGC filed a complaint (E.D. Pa. Case No. 13-02069) to involuntarily terminate a defined benefit plan prior to a corporate transaction that would change the plan sponsor’s controlled group. The PBGC claimed that the plan sponsor, Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc., would join a financially weaker controlled group after it is acquired by the Ardagh Group, S.A. through a share purchase. On October 4, 2013, the Court ruled that it will determine de novo whether to involuntarily terminate the plan, without any administrative deference for the PBGC’s determination. As a result, the Court will consider evidence outside of the PBGC’s administrative record.
On April 18, 2013, PBGC filed a complaint (PBGC v. Saint-Gobain Corp. Benefits Comm., E.D. Pa. Case No. 13-02069) to involuntarily terminate a defined benefit plan sponsored by Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc. before Ardagh Group, S.A. acquires Saint-Gobain through a share purchase. PBGC alleges that the plan is underfunded by approximately $523.7 million and that the sale will transfer the plan from Saint-Gobain’s “investment-grade” controlled group to Ardagh’s controlled group, unreasonably increasing PBGC’s potential long-run loss from the plan.