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BB&T contributes $144 million so far in 2018 to pension plan

BB&T Corp., Winston-Salem, N.C., contributed $144 million to its defined benefit plan in the first quarter of 2018, and may make additional contributions this year, according to its 10-K filed Tuesday.

The company has one qualified defined benefit plan that is open to new hires, benefits manager Steve Reeder said in an email. "BB&T recognizes that many companies no longer choose to sponsor a pension plan. However, for BB&T, we feel the pension plan provides an important retention tool for the company ... We believe that the pension plan reduces turnover and enhances the engagement of our associates," Mr. Reeder said.

In 2017, BB&T contributed $479 million to the plan. Mr. Reeder said it has historically contributed the maximum tax-deductible contribution, which in 2018 was lower due to high returns on fund assets in 2017.

The pension fund had assets of $6.31 billion and liabilities of $4.94 billion as of Dec. 31, for a funded status of 127.7%, compared to 128% the year before.

The company said in its 10-K that its expected rate of return in 2018 is 7%.

The target asset allocation ranges in 2017 were 30% to 50% U.S. equities, 11% to 18% international equities, 35% to 53% fixed income, and up to 14% alternatives, including real estate, hedge funds and private equity.

The discount rate at the end of 2017 was 3.79%, down from 4.43% the year before.