Brewery Makes Another Plea for Pension Termination

March 21, 2006 ( - Pittsburgh Brewing has asked a federal judge to terminate its pension plan, currently underfunded by $11.8 million.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the brewer, which entered bankruptcy in December, said it will not be able to get back on its feet if the plan is not terminated as of April 1, 2005.   The company had asked the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to terminate its plan last year (See  Pittsburgh Brewing to PBGC: Take Our DB Plan).

The company said it was obligated to contribute $1.8 million to the plan on March 31, according to the Post-Gazette.   In addition, the brewer warned that if the pension is not terminated retroactive to last April, it will be required to pay nearly $2 million more in obligations because of recently enacted legislation designed to shore up the beleaguered PBGC.

Not only did the PBGC not act on Pittsburgh Brewing’s request for the plan termination, but the agency is objecting to a provision in the March 9 agreement approved by the bankruptcy court.   The provision results in the assets of Keystone Brewers Holding, a related company that owns Pittsburgh Brewing’s trademarks, being transferred to the brewery.   Creditors view the trademarks for Iron City and IC Light as some of the cash-strapped brewery’s choicest assets, and transferring them to the brewery gives more creditors a claim on them. The PBGC wants the judge to rescind the provision because Keystone has far fewer creditors, strengthening the agency’s claim on the assets.