Techneglas owes USD 141 million to pension plans

Bankrupt CRT manufacturer Techneglas owes more than USD 141 million to two employee pension plans and failed to make a final payment in 2004 after it closed its US plants, said the Pension Benefit Gua…

Bankrupt CRT manufacturer Techneglas owes more than USD 141 million to two employee pension plans and failed to make a final payment in 2004 after it closed its US plants, said the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), the federal agency that insures private pension plans. The PBGC has filed claims for payment against Techneglas, which closed its plants in Columbus and Perrysburg (Ohio) and Pittston, Pennsylvania in August – September 2004. The company said high production costs and pressure from lower priced imports and newer television technologies forced it to cease its US operations. Techneglas is contesting some of the claims as duplicates, according to documents filed 10 March 2005 in the company“s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization case in the federal court in Columbus, Ohio, where the firm“s corporate offices are located. A spokesman for the PBGC said it launched the claims to protect the interests of the members in the plans for unionized and salaried workers. “That is standard procedure when a company goes into Chapter 11 and has an underfunded pension plan,” said Jeffrey Speicher. “PBGC also files a claim if the company has missed required contributions to the plan and missed required premium payments.” Techneglas notified the PBGC it did not make the 4Q payment for the plans, added Speicher. PBGC has six claims against Techneglas, said Speicher. Three listed amounts of USD 15.2 million, USD 97 million and USD 29.3 million. Three other claims are labeled “unknown amounts owed.” Techneglas listed a total of 12 identical claims and asked the bankruptcy court to remove six of them. The PBGC is one of the many unsecured creditors owed money by the company. The glass maker, a wholly owned subsidiary of Nippon Electric Glass of Japan, filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors in September 2004. At the time of the filing Techneglas said it had debts and assets each worth more than USD 100 million. If the PBGC assumes control of the pension plans, it will guarantee a payment to plan members, although it might not pay out the full benefits due to members. Congress set a maximum guaranteed limit of USD 44,386 per year for people who retire at 65 in plans that ended in 2004. The guarantee is lower for those who retire early and higher for those who retire after 65. Techneglas has sold off millions of dollars worth of precious metals to raise funds. It also hired the real estate firm of CB Richard Ellis of Los Angeles to market its properties. In the second week of March 2005 the company completed an auction of machinery, tools and equipment from its Pittston plant. The auctions for the Columbus and Perrysburg plants were rescheduled to 27-28 April from 16-17 March.