The most notable increases in rankings on Pensions & Investment's list of the top 200 pension funds happened as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Growth in defined contribution plan assets lifted several pension funds as well.
Only a few plans showed a major decline in chart position.
The most significant move in 1999's top 200 was by SBC Communications, San Antonio. SBC, which ranked 29th last year, merged with Ameritech Corp., Chicago, (which had ranked 48th) to reach 14. The $61 billion plan is now the nation's fifth largest corporate plan. Another merger involving top 200 companies was BP America's acquisition of Amoco Corp. to become 73rd-ranked BP Amoco Corp., Chicago. BP America had ranked 191st, while Amoco was 106th in last year's ranking.
Mergers also added three new members to the top 200. Halliburton Co., Dallas, which had slipped to 216th last year, merged with Dresser Industries Inc, Dallas. The merger helped Halliburton to return to the top 200, ranking 178th.
Merging with members of 1998's top 200 landed two other new names on the list. Bank One Corp.'s merger with First Chicago NBD Corp. (ranked at 178 last year) catapulted the company to 141st from 348th. Supermarket chain Albertson's Inc. jumped to 186th from 991st after acquiring American Stores Co., which ranked at 195 last year.
Returning to the top 200 list -- for the first time since 1988 -- was the City of Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement. Total assets increased 42% in 1999 after the board received $1.25 billion in proceeds from a pension obligation bond.
The top 200's only true newcomer, Delphi Automotive Systems Corp., Troy, Mich., which was spun off from General Motors Corp., New York, in May. The new company made an impressive showing, ranking 95th in its first year.
Investing in sponsoring company stock increased defined contribution assets noticeably for some companies, including Sprint Corp., Westwood, Kan., which moved up 33 slots to rank 109 (see related story on page 26). Sprint's total employee benefit assets increased 43% as of Sept. 30 -- but defined contribution assets increased 69%.
Sixty-two percent of the defined contribution plan is allocated to the company's stock, which rose considerably after a proposed merger with MCI Worldcom was announced last spring.
Two well-established companies -- Sears Roebuck & Co. and Texaco Inc. -- saw their pension fund assets decrease considerably. Sears was hit hard by the dismal performance of its stock in 1999. One share of Sears stock was valued at 53.125 in May; by Sept. 30, the price had dropped to 29.9375. Sears slipped to 164th, from 139th. Texaco, which slipped to 199th, from 158th, was hit hard with an unusually high amount of payouts in 1999, said John Dowling, assistant manager. Many Texaco employees opted to move their accounts to the company's new joint venture with Shell, said Mr. Dowling.
Only three of last year's top 200 members have dropped off the list: the District of Columbia Retirement Board; RJR Nabisco Inc.; and Monsanto Co., St. Louis.
The D.C. board was knocked off the list when the federal government took control of $3 billion in assets as part of a program to relieve the board's mounting financial troubles. The board kept $1.7 billion, falling to 457th. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc. and Nabisco Foods Inc., formerly RJR Nabisco Inc., were unable to enter the top 200 independently, and Monsanto dropped to 210th after spinning off Solutia Inc. in January 1999.