The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has been watching company moves as carefully as a cat watches goldfish.
On Aug. 22, the PBGC took over Hamakua Sugar Co.'s two pension plans, underfunded by $15 million. Two days later, it reached an agreement with James River Corp. over 12 pension plans being transferred to a new company.
Hamakua Sugar, Paauilo, Hawaii, once was the state's second largest sugar cane grower. It filed for bankruptcy protection in 1992, and is now being liquidated. The two pension plans have about $9 million in assets and $24 million in liabilities.
Most Hamakua retirees will receive the same benefits they had been receiving from the company, a PBGC statement said.
Participants working for Hamakua Health Center Inc., which is still in business, are not affected by the plan terminations because they were spun off into a new pension plan.
James River, a Richmond, Va., paper company, agreed to be the backstop to 12 pension plans that will be transferred to the new corporation, Crown Vantage Inc., Oakland, Calif. The pension plans are underfunded by about $55 million.
Under the agreement, James River will either take back the plans or will become liable for the pension benefits should Crown Vantage fail to pay benefits.
"Pensions are a part of doing business and must be addressed during corporate restructuring," said PBGC Executive Director Martin Slate.