Unilever pension deficit doubles over H1 2020

Unilever’s pension liability net of assets has increased to €400m (£363m) as at 30 June 2020, up from €200m (£170m) at the start of the year.

The firm clarified that higher liabilities, which were driven by falling discount rates, were partially offset by positive investment returns across pension assets.

According to the group’s half-year results, pension assets for funded schemes in surplus fell to €2.2bn at the end of June, marking a €200m fall since the start of the year (€2.4bn/£2.1bn at 31 December 2019).

This was however an increase compared to this time last year, when assets for funded schemes in surplus were reported as just over €2bn (£1.8bn).

Furthermore, the scheme deficit position has also improved year-on-year despite the recent increases, with pension liabilities net of assets of €500m (£420m) recorded at the end of June 2019.

However, a remeasurement of the company’s defined benefit (DB) pension plans in June 2020 showed a €468m year-on-year to loss to -€201m (-£182m), with a previous remeasurement in June 2019 recorded as €267m (£242m).

This follows a €353m (£299.2m) gain seen in the remeasurement of the company’s DB plans at the start of the year.

Liabilities for funded schemes in deficit increased to €1.275bn (£1.1bn) as at 30 June 2020, compared to €1.157bn (£1bn) at the start of the year.

Liabilities for unfunded schemes however dropped slightly, from €1.46bn (£1.32bn) at the start of the year, to €1.42bn (£1.24bn) as at 30 June 2020.

The group previously launched a consultation over several proposal changes to the DB section of its UK hybrid scheme in December, which included the introduction of a ‘benefits envelope’ for all employers.

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