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Ford sees $5 billion in pension contributions in 2013

Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich., expects 2013 cash contributions to its worldwide pension plans to be approximately $5 billion, including $3.4 billion in discretionary contributions, the company said in its fourth-quarter earnings release.

Ford contributed $3.4 billion in cash to its worldwide plans in 2012 and $1.1 billion during 2011.

Earlier this month the company netted $1.93 billion from the sale of 30-year notes, and said $1.33 billion will be used to fund pension contributions, as initially reported by Pensions & Investments on Jan. 3.

In 2012, the company offered a voluntary lump-sum defined benefit plan payment to approximately 90,000 U.S. salaried retirees and former employees. In Tuesday's earnings release, the company said it settled $1.2 billion of its pension obligations through the lump-sum payout program.

In an earnings presentation, the company said its worldwide plans (including U.S. plans) were underfunded by $18.7 billion at the end of 2012. Its U.S. plans were underfunded by $9.7 billion.

Returns on its U.S. pension plans were 14.2% in 2012, up from 7.7% in 2011.