The Trinity Mirror defined benefit pension deficit fell by £88.4m to £377.6m during 2017, on an IAS19 accounting basis.
In its full year results, the publisher revealed the group paid £38.7m into its DB schemes in 2017, which includes £2.5m in relation to a share buyback programme. However, it also attributes the drop in the deficit to strong asset returns and a fall in future mortality improvements, which more than offsets a reduction to the discount rate.
Despite the deficit reduction, Trinity Mirror confirmed that the agreed funding arrangements for the schemes would not change. As publicised in December 2017, following the conclusion of its triennial valuation, the group will contribute £43.8m a year for its three DB schemes, from 2018 until 2028. These are the MGN Pension Scheme, Trinity Retirement Benefit Scheme (Trinity Scheme) and the Midland Independent Newspapers Pension Scheme (MIN).
As part of the triennial valuation, it was agreed that as at 31 December 2016, the deficits were £476m for the MGN Scheme, £78m for the Trinity Scheme and £68.2m for the MIN Scheme. In addition, the group agreed that in respect of dividend payments in 2018, 2019 and 2020 that additional contributions would be paid at 50 per cent of the excess if dividends in 2018 are above 6.16 pence per share. For 2019 and 2020 the threshold increases in line with the increase in dividends capped at 10 per cent per annum.
Furthermore, the group also confirmed that as part of the agreement to acquire Northern and Shell’s publishing assets, it will make an upfront payment of £41.2m to its DB schemes, and it has agreed recovery plans amounting to £29.2m, over the period 2018 to 2027. This is made up of £1.9m per annum from 2018 until 2020, £4.1m per annum from 2021 to 2023, £3.3m per annum from 2024 until 2026 and £1.3m in 2027.