Daily Mail pension scheme surplus rises to £325m

The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) defined benefit (DB) pension scheme net surplus has risen by £20m since the start of the year, to £352.1m at 31 March 2020.

This follows an £88m surge in the surplus during the second half of 2019, hitting £332m as of 31 December 2019.

According to the group's half year financial report, it also reported a surge in its pro forma pension surplus, increasing from £332m at the start of the year to £469m at 31 March 2020.

However, this figure includes £117m made available to the pension scheme in April 2019, which remains as cash on DMGT’s balance sheet, in addition to the statutory net surplus.

DMGT clarified that whilst the there was a decrease in the value of the scheme assets during first half of the year, this was surpassed by the decrease in the value of its obligations.

However, the report also explained that the value of unquoted investments will be affected by current market conditions and trends, stating that this could result in changes to their fair value after the measurement date.

It estimated that a 1 per cent movement in these assets could change the value of the group’s pension scheme assets by as much as £23.2m.

The group made contributions of £16.2m to the scheme during the period, though potential revisions to the existing funding plan are currently being discussed with the trustees.

Furthermore, whilst the actuarial valuation of the pension scheme as at 31 March 2019 is still ongoing, it is expected to conclude that the schemes remain in deficit on an actuarial basis.

As at 31 March 2020, the group also owed £1m to the pension scheme, comprising of employees’ and employer’s contributions in respect of March 2020 payrolls.

Meanwhile, the total net pension charge of the group for the half year has fallen to £3.8m, compared to £5.2m for the same period in 2019.

Commenting, DMGT CEO, Paul Zwillenberg, added: "DMGT delivered a solid performance in the first half of the year, reflecting a strong first five months of trading followed by one month of weakness due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Since February, we have moved quickly to protect our stakeholders and actively support our portfolio of businesses.

"The health and wellbeing of our employees remains a priority as we prepare to navigate a post-Covid future and I would like to thank them all for their continued hard work and commitment to the success of DMGT.

He concluded: "The severity and duration of the Covid-19 crisis remains unclear but DMGT has a robust balance sheet, access to significant funding and a diversified portfolio. This gives me, and the board, confidence that we will weather the current storm and withstand a sustained period of global economic uncertainty."

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