DOZENS of companies are preparing to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into their out-of-money defined-benefit superannuation programs over the next few years, as part of efforts to help claw back losses.
While Australian companies mostly closed out their defined-benefit schemes during the 1990s, those that have expanded overseas through acquisition have usually inherited costly programs.
Among Australia's top 20 companies just one Wesfarmers has a defined-benefit scheme that is in surplus. Wesfarmer' surplus has come in at $5 million, up from
$4 million the year before.
BHP Billiton pumped $US336 million into its out-of-money scheme last year, helping to narrow the deficit to $US177 million from $US215 million a year earlier.
The banks all have sizeable defined-benefit schemes, with the bulk of obligations due to various forays into the UK. Westpac has the biggest deficit at $676 million, NAB has a $295 million deficit and ANZ's loss is $225 million. Exposure to the UK also resulted in Commonwealth Bank's defined-pension scheme swinging to a loss of $7 million last year from a surplus of $234 million the year before.
Telstra has been working to reduce the loss on its $2.7 billion defined-pension scheme, which peaked at $457 million two years ago. Last year the loss on that fund narrowed to $194 million.
AMP's recent acquisition of AXA Asia-Pacific delivered a jump in superannuation liabilities, with the deficit last year blowing out to
$370 million from $67 million.
APRA said companies often had to top up in-house schemes at the same time as their profits came under pressure.