Baxter International Inc., Deerfield, Ill., expects to contribute a total of $100 million to its pension plans in 2004, according to its 10-K filing. The company reported a $51 million pension expense as of Dec. 31, compared with $16 million in pension income at the end of 2002. The increased cost was due to lower discount rate assumptions, demographics and investment returns, the company said. Baxter lowered its discount rate for U.S. and Puerto Rico plans to 6% in 2003, down from 6.75% rate a year earlier; the discount rate for international plans was 5.4% for both years. The expected rate of return on U.S. and Puerto Rican plan assets was 10% in 2003 and 2002; the international plans used a 7.6% rate in 2003, up from 7.5% at the end of 2002. This year, all plans will use a target asset allocation of 80% to 90% equity, 10% to 15% fixed income and up to 3% in other investments.
Baxter reported worldwide pension plan assets of $1.4 billion as of Dec. 31, and worldwide plan liabilities of $2.5 billion, according to the filing.