The pension package Senate Republicans expect to unveil soon shares broad themes with Democratic pension legislation introduced earlier this year. Like the Democratic package, the legislation being drafted by the Republican task f orce will recommend expansion of tax-deductible IRAs, removing inequities in pension coverage for women, making it easier for job-hoppers to take assets with them and creating simple-to-administer traditional pension plans.
The Republican package also would boost the ceilings on how much money employers can contribute to pension plans, prevent plans from investing in certain kinds of investments, and weed out regulations and paperwork.
CalPERS approved corpo rate governance market principles for the U.K. and France. Among other things, the $110 billion pension system's board calls for the elimination of staggered board terms and the adoption of confidential voting.
The fund also called for existing corporate governance codes or principles to be upheld and strengthened in the U.K. British interests, including the Confederation of British Industry, are trying to reduce the number and specificity of corporate gover nance measures, CalPERS officials said. The board called on French companies to carry out responsibilities to all shareholders, including minority shareholders.
CalPERS officials said a series of scandals in France ``together with several high-profile instances of boards attempting to ride roughshod over minority interests'' have sparked concern that ``traditional methods of French governance are failing.''
New York City pension funds reached agreements wit h three companies in exchange for withdrawing shareholder resolutions it submitted. Avid Technology's chairman agreed to propose creating a board nominating committee consisting of non-employee directors; Information Resources will adopt a classified board proposal; and Phillips-Van Heusen will ensure a majority of its board members are outsiders, NYCERS officials said.
The PBGC today announced it will be using a 5.8% interest rate assumption when valuing li abilities for its 1997 Top 50 list.
The list, expected by the end of the year, tallies companies with the worst-funded plans. Companies have until Sept. 15 to make contributions to change their status. The assumptions reflect the c ost of purchasing an annuity at the end of 1996. Last year, the agency used a 5.3% interest rate.
The PBGC also is asking the public whether it should amend how it values benefits when terminating pension plans. The PBGC is conside ring new mortality tables to value benefits. The public has until May 19 to comment.
In the face of subpoena threats, Dallas officials turned over confidential actuarial studies to the Texas Pension Review Board. City officials cla im the studies show the $1.3 billion plan is financially sound. The agency is moderating a dispute between fund trustees and the city. Trustees claim the city's projected 9.2% annual return on investments is too high and the fund's own 8.25% projection is more realistic.
Pension fund trustees claim the city's projections could lead to shortfalls over the next 30 years. PRB officials are reviewing the city's information and plan to address the issue at an Apr il 10 meeting.
Pennzoil Co., Houston, is considering adding international and small-cap equity options to its $172 million 401(k) plan. The investment committee is in ``the investigative process'' and has no manager searches schedu led, said Carolyn Van Dyke, financial analyst. The combined hourly and salaried workers plan has seven options. SEI Capital Resources probably will assist any searches.
Houston Municipal Employees' Pension System hired Yamaichi Int ernational for a $35 million Southeast Asia portfolio that excludes Japan and Australia. Assets came from rebalancing of international equities holdings, but no managers were terminated, said David L. Long, executive director of th e $1 billion fund. Wilshire assisted.
Ash Grove Cement Co., Overland Park, Kan., hired Trinity Investment Management to manage a $20 million active equity portfolio for its $100 million pension fund, said Robert Sunderland, chairma n. Assets came from an in-house portfolio.
Martina Hun-Mejean, treasurer of Vauxhall Motors Ltd., Luton, England, was named comptroller. She will continue overseeing the company's £1 billion ($1.6 billion) pension fund until a repl acement is found.
J. Richard Zecher was named CIO by Ferrell Capital Management, a new position. Mr. Zecher will work on re-starting Ferrell's manager-of-managers division and the risk consulting side of Ferrell's business.
Previo usly, he worked with a family business, Bellingham Capital Management, an offshore funds manager.