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Ford pension plan funding improves globally, but U.S. plans lag


Ford Motor Co. on Thursday said the funded status of its pension plans significantly improved in 2015 due to strong investment returns racked up by the automaker’s pension plans outside the United States.

At year-end 2015, Ford’s pension plans worldwide were underfunded by $8.2 billion, down sharply from $9.8 billion a year earlier, according to financial reports released by Ford.

Ford’s pension plans outside the United States were underfunded by $4.5 billion in 2015, down sharply from $7.5 billion in 2014. That steep decline in underfunding was largely due to a 7.7% return on plan assets.

By contrast, underfunding of Ford’s U.S. pension plans jumped to $3.7 billion last year, up from $2.3 billion in 2014. In its reports, Ford noted that its U.S. pension plans had a return on assets of minus 1.8% last year compared with a 16.4% return in 2014.

Ford sharply reduced contributions to its pension plans in 2015, pumping in $1.1 billion, down from $1.5 billion in 2014.

Ford did not disclose its pension plans’ assets and liabilities. Such disclosure will come in several weeks when the automaker releases its 10-K report for 2015.

At year-end 2014, Ford’s U.S. pension plans — including plans covering salaried and union employees and retirees — had a funded ratio of 96.8%, with $44.84 billion in assets and $46.32 billion in liabilities. That compares with a funded ratio of 95.5% at year-end 2013 when the U.S. plans had $41.22 billion in assets and $43.18 billion in liabilities.

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