Corporate Pension Pain Mounts

Fed policy boosts plan liabilities; big employers to contribute $100 bln this year.

General Electric Co., Boeing Co. and 3M Co. will join big U.S. employers in making a record $100 billion in 2012 pension contributions, 67 percent more than two years ago, as low interest rates boost companies’ liabilities.

Payments may total $400 billion from 2011 through 2015 to ease underfunding at the 100 largest defined-benefit programs, according to consultant Milliman Inc., which estimated that assets in January were enough to cover less than three-fourths of projected payouts.

‘Liabilities Did Increase’

“With the declining interest rates here in 2011, our liabilities did increase,” 3M Chief Financial Officer David Meline said Feb. 23 at a Barclays Plc industrial conference.

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