U.S. pension risk transfer activity hit an all-time high for the first half of a calendar year in 2023, with at least 289 pension buyout and buy-in transactions totaling $22.4 billion in premiums in the six months ended June 30, according to Aon's 2023 midyear update.
For the six months ended June 30, 2022, there were at least 204 transactions totaling $17.1 billion.
The majority of this year's activity took place in the second quarter, with $16.1 billion placed, compared with the $6.3 billion placed in the quarter ended March 31.
Overall, retiree liftouts — in which a portion of liabilities are transferred to an insurance company — represented about 70% of total premium dollars, while in terms of the number of transactions, over 50% of transactions were for full plan terminations.
According to Aon, there were four transactions of over $1 billion each in volume during the first six months of 2023. By far the largest transaction of the period was Dallas-based AT&T Inc. purchasing a group annuity contract from two Athene Holding subsidiaries to transfer $8.1 billion in U.S. pension plan liabilities. The purchase closed in May.
The other three transactions over $1 billion were for currently undisclosed pension plans.