PBGC Seizes Lenox Pension Plans

May 19, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The nation's private-sector pension insurer has taken responsibility for two pension plans covering about 4,300 workers and retirees of Lenox Group Inc., a bankrupt maker of tableware, giftware and collectibles.

A news release from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) said it stepped in to deal with the pensions at the Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Lenox because the underfunded pensions would be abandoned following the sale of substantially all company assets, as contemplated in Lenox’s bankruptcy proceeding.

According to PBGC estimates, the Lenox China Pension Plan and the Lenox Inc. Retirement Plan are 35% funded, with combined assets of $70 million and benefit liabilities of $200 million. The agency expects to cover $128 million of the $130 million total shortfall. Both plans were frozen on January 1, 2007.

The PBGC will take over the assets and use insurance funds to pay guaranteed benefits earned under the plans, which ended as of March 31, 2009.

Participants in these pension plans are subject to the limits in effect on November 23, 2008, which set a maximum guaranteed amount of $51,750 for a 65-year-old.