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Kroger restructures multiemployer pension fund participation

Kroger restructures multiemployer pension fund participation

Kroger Co., Cincinnati, is restructuring its participation in some multiemployer pension funds, spokesman Keith Dailey said.

The changes represent additional steps in the company's ongoing efforts to address its pension liabilities, Mr. Dailey said.

Kroger announced it is moving the liabilities for 870 current employees and 840 retirees in Washington state to the UFCW Consolidated Pension Fund, Atlanta, from the Washington Meat Industry Pension Trust, Seattle.

The company also announced that about 350 Denver area-based pharmacists who have participated in the Pace Industry Union-Management Pension Fund, Nashville, Tenn., will now participate in one of Kroger's existing 401(k) plans, Mr. Dailey wrote in an e-mail.

As of June 30, 2013, the Washington Meat Industry Pension Trust had $266 million in assets, and as of Dec. 31, 2012, the UFCW Consolidated Pension Fund had $3.7 billion in assets, and the Pace Industry Union-Management Pension Fund had $1.6 billion. All asset sizes are from the plans' most recent Form 5500 filings.

As of Feb. 1, Kroger had $3.135 billion in defined benefit plan assets and $3.509 billion in projected benefit obligations, for a funding ratio of 89.3%, its most recent 10-K filing said, and $5.6 billion in defined contribution plan assets as of Sept. 30, 2013, Pensions & Investments data show.

During fiscal year 2013, which ended on Jan. 31, the company contributed $228 million to 17 multiemployer pension funds and $100 million to its own company-sponsored pension funds, the 10-K filing said.

Rob Kozlowski writes for Pensions & Investments, a sister publication of Business Insurance.