U.S. corporate pension plan buyout sales totaled $7.7 billion in the third quarter, a LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute sales survey found.
The amount for the quarter was up 22% from the third quarter of 2018, when buyout sales totaled $6.3 billion.
Pension plan buyout sales for the first nine months of 2019 totaled $16.7 billion, up 5% from the $15.9 billion in sales during the same period in 2018.
The first and second quarters of 2019 saw $4.8 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, in pension plan buyout sales.
"This quarter marked the highest third-quarter sales for pension buyout products since we have been tracking this market” beginning in 1986, said Mark Paracer, assistant research director at the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute, in a news release. "While there was a substantial contract reported this quarter, we also saw a high number of mid-sized contracts that drove the overall growth."
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., New York, completed the largest buyout during the third quarter, transferring $2.4 billion in pension plan liabilities to Athene Annuity and Life Co. to complete a full termination of the plan originally announced in December 2018.
The survey reported a total of 111 new buyout contracts sold in the quarter ended Sept. 30, bringing the total for the first nine months of the year to 301 contracts. LIMRA reported 281 contracts sold in the first nine months of 2018.
LIMRA surveyed the 17 financial services companies that provide all the group annuity contracts for U.S. corporate pension plans.