HOUSTON — The merger of ConocoPhillips Inc.'s two defined contribution plans serves as a road map for other companies seeking to avoid blackout periods.
Weekend conversions are a relatively new phenomenon among defined contribution plan sponsors wanting to avoid the debacle that befell Enron Corp., whose 401(k) participants lost millions of dollars during a blackout that kept them from selling their Enron stock when its value was plummeting.
ConocoPhillips took great care in planning for the 401(k) merger, which was accomplished the weekend of Oct. 3-5. Preparations included two mock weekend conversions to test all of the systems. Assisting were Vanguard Group, Malvern, Pa., bundledprovider of the Phillips Petroleum Co. plan, and New York-based J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services Inc., Conoco's bundled 401(k) provider.
Vanguard, Malvern, Pa., was selected as bundled provider of the combined plan, which has $5.8 billion in assets.