Monday, April 24, 2006

Pennies from heaven

This one came as something of a surprise - in releasing an update on its pension deficit, BT drops the Crown Guarantee into the mix of issues being discussed. This guarantee was extended to BT in 1984 to secure the pensions of those employees who joined the company prior to privatization. Though not made clear in the release, the company is saying elsewhere in the press that it believes the Guarantee covers 3/4 of its pension liabilities (estimated at GBP2.5bn), which have been perceived as something of a deal-breaker for a potential take-out of the company. What's really curious is that the Crown Guarantee is mentioned nowhere in BT's 20-F, and according to a pensions expert I heard being interviewed on Radio 4 this morning, it doesn't appear in DTI's accounts either.