Baxter (NYSE:BAX) this month moved to shift more than $2 billion in pension obligations to some 17,000 retired and former employees off of its books by inking an annuity plan with Prudential Insurance.
The Chicago-area healthcare giant said it plans to use assets from the ex-workers’ plan, which it split last year from the existing pension plan for current employees, to buy he pensbuy a group annuity contract from Prudential and transfer the future benefit obligations and administration to the insurer for about 17,200 ex-workers.
The move cuts Baxter’s U.S pension obligations by roughly $2.4 billion, the company said, and guarantees all benefits will be paid out to eligible recipients. It applies to workers who reached “pay status” as of Jan. 1; workers who were fully vested but not in pay status as of that date are not eligible, the company said.
The annuity purchase is slated to close tomorrow, with Prudential taking over after Dec. 31. Baxter said it expects to log a non-cash pension settlement charge of about $750 million, or $1.09 per share, during the fourth quarter.