WestRock pays out $192.2 million in lump sums

WestRock Co., Norcross, Ga., paid out $192.2 million in lump-sum payments to some former employees in two of its U.S. defined benefit plans, said a 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

The payments took place in December. An offer was made to former employees in the two plans in September, and the company said in its latest 10-K filing for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 that it expected to pay about between $150 million and $200 million in lump-sum payments.

Frank Varano, senior manager-pension and investments, said in an email that the company is not publicly announcing how many former employees were sent the offer or how many accepted it.

It is the latest in a series of pension risk transfers for WestRock, which in September purchased a group annuity contract from Prudential Insurance Co. of America to transfer about $2.5 billion of U.S. defined benefit plan liabilities.

Predecessor companies Rock-Tenn Co., Norcross, Ga., and MeadWestvaco Corp., Richmond, Va., had also offered lump sums to former employees before their July 1, 2015, merger that created WestRock.

As of Sept. 30, U.S. defined benefit plan assets totaled $4.232 billion, while projected benefit obligations totaled $4.302 billion, for a funding ratio of 98.4%, according to the 10-K filing.