Amid concerns that 401(k) fees are eating into workers' retirement savings, Caterpillar announced this month that it will settle a lawsuit that alleged its 401(k) plans levied excessive fees. Under the settlement, which still has to be approved by the court, the company will pay $16.5 million to 80,000 participants and former participants in its 401(k) plans.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 2006, also cited the Caterpillar 401(k) plans' use of retail mutual funds rather than separate accounts and the fact that up until 2006, the plans used investment options provided by the Preferred Group of Mutual Funds, then owned by Caterpillar.

"The tentative settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing on the part of Caterpillar," says company spokesman Jim Dugan. "We believe we would have prevailed in the end. However, we made a strategic decision that it didn't make sense for Caterpillar to spend perhaps five to seven years in litigation involving extremely complex and technical regulations, and in particular litigating over a part of our business that we exited in 2006." Caterpillar sold its mutual funds unit to T. Rowe price in 2006.

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