U.S. corporate pension plan buyouts reached $4.1 billion in the second quarter of 2017, more than double the same quarter in 2016, a LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute sales survey found.
"This is the first time that second-quarter buyout sales have eclipsed $4 billion in the U.S. market, and is the highest second-quarter sales total on record since 2002," said Eugene Noble, research analyst at the institute, in a news release. "Traditionally, second-quarter results have not been the strongest in this market, but since 2015, we have seen second-quarter buyout sales surpass $1 billion each year."
In the first quarter, buyout sales totaled $1.4 billion. Sales for the second quarter of 2016 totaled $1 billion. Most buyout activity has traditionally taken place in the second half of calendar years. Sales in the third and fourth quarter of 2016, for example, totaled $5.9 billion and $5.7 billion, respectively.
One notable second-quarter transaction was Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears Holdings Corp.'s May purchase of a group annuity contract from MetLife to transfer about $515 million in U.S. defined benefit plan liabilities.
The LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute surveys the 15 financial services companies that provide all the group annuity contracts for the U.S. for its Group Annuity Risk Transfer Survey every quarter.