By Richard F. DeMong
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Additional info for Broader Perspectives on the Interest of Pension Plan Participants
Too, termination of overfunded plans, as noted above, allows the firm to benefit from the superior performance of its pension fund. Although ERISA allows a firm to terminate a plan and recapture excess plan assets, after paying participants what is owed to them a t that point, the A&P case shows that the issue is far from resolved. Union leaders and some Democratic politicians maintain that these funds belong to the employees, not the firm. The ownership of pension plan funds is likely to become more and more an issue of dispute if the financial condition of the Social Security system deteriorates further.
T h e importance of defined benefit plans to corporate sponsors is likewise visible. ' With respect to vested funding status (pension assets minus the present value of vested benefits), most of the companies had a vested funding status which was within +/- ten percent of net worth. 1 percent. As important as pension funding is, pension funding theory and management practices are often inconsistent, particularly as they relate to questions of when and by how much a corporation should fund its pension fund.
This would eliminate the second and third reasons for underfunding. However, it should also be noted that pension liabilities are often viewed as unconventional debt which provides the firm flexibility. , pension maturity is vague). V. Firm Value Versus Employee Safety Employee and stockholder interests have often been considered adversaries in the question of pension funding. T h e desire to safeguard employee benefits is seen to be at odds with the quest to maximize firm value. This paper outlines the theory and research l6 T h e W a l l Street Journal ( ~ c t o b e 11, r 1984) l7 Z.