NASDAQ Implements Sweeping Retirement Plan Changes

April 25, 2007 ( - NASDAQ Stock Market Inc. has become the latest employer to turn away from a defined benefit pension plan in favor of a 401(k) and other programs.

In a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company revealed that its board approved a series of moves April 18 implementing a variety of retirement savings changes.

The SEC document said the NASDAQ changes call for:

  • a freeze of the Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. Pension Plan and The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan (SERP);
  • an amendment to The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. 401(k) Savings Plan (401(k) Plan) to put in place profit sharing contributions based on a fixed formula and discretionary profit sharing contributions; and
  • a new non-qualified profit sharing plan called The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. Supplemental Employer Retirement Contribution Plan.

The company said the new retirement benefits would be implemented on July 1, 2007.

According to the SEC filing, participants will only accrue additional pension plan and SERP benefits through April 30, 2007. However, participants will continue to receive credit for future service for vesting in their frozen accrued pension plan and SERP benefits and for eligibility for an existing early retirement subsidy under the pension plan.

The first part of the new retirement benefits, which will be provided under the existing 401(k) Plan, is available to all employees, including executive officers, on the same terms, the company said in the SEC filing.

Under the 401(k) Plan, NASDAQ will:

  • continue to match an employee’s contributions up to 4% of salary;
  • make new fixed amount, tax-qualified contributions to the 401(k), called the Basic Employer Retirement Contributions (Basic ERC), within specified guidelines based on years of service; and
  • make additional fixed amount, tax-qualified contributions, called Enhanced Employer Retirement Contributions (Enhanced ERC), within specified guidelines, for employees age 45 or older with at least 10 years of service on December 31, 2006.

NASDAQ will also be able to make additional, discretionary tax-qualified contributions to the 401(k) plan, the company said.

The Supplemental ERC Plan will be available to officers and non-officers whose base salaries are above $225,000 in 2007, or whose total annual Basic and Enhanced ERC contributions would be greater than the permitted annual contribution limit, generally $45,000 for 2007.

Employees who cannot receive their full Basic and Enhanced ERC contributions under the 401(k) plan due to these Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Code limits will get employer contributions that make up for the shortfall through the Supplemental ERC Plan. As such, these employees will continue to get the full Basic and Enhanced ERC amounts that they would have been entitled to but for these IRS limits, the company said.

NASDAQ will also have the discretion to make additional "make-up" contributions to the Supplemental ERC Plan if any part of the Basic or Enhanced ERC contributions cannot be provided to higher paid employees under the 401(k) Plan on account of separate IRS nondiscrimination limitations.

NASDAQ's contributions to the Basic ERC, Enhanced ERC and Supplemental ERC Plan will depend upon NASDAQ achieving corporate financial goals that may be set each year by the management compensation committee and are expected to mirror the goals for NASDAQ's Executive Corporate Incentive Plan, the company said in the regulatory finding.

Employees may also direct the investment of their Basic ERC and Enhanced ERC contributions among the various mutual funds available under the 401(k) Plan. Unlike the Pension Plan and SERP, the ERC benefits will be immediately vested, the company said.