IBM currently estimates a difference of $3 billion between the US plan’s assets and projections of benefit obligations on an accumulated benefit obligation (ABO) basis. The amount and structure of the contribution will be determined by year end.
This year’s contribution will be the first IBM has made to its pension plan since 1995. The company said the contribution would not affect operating budgets, strategic initiatives or 2003 earnings per share expectations.
John Joyce, IBM’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, said earlier estimates were for $1.5 billion to be contributed each year until 2005. However, “since then, the equity markets have improved and the status of our pension fund has also improved. Assuming that the capital markets and interest rates do not deteriorate significantly between now and year-end, we plan to restore the U.S. pension plan – by far our largest pension plan – to fully funded status this year.”