U.S. government pension insurer opposes Nortel settlement

Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:58pm EDT
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By Tom Hals

WILMINGTON, Del. Oct 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. government's pension insurer said on Thursday it opposed a deal to divvy up $7.3 billion left from the liquidation of Nortel Networks, potentially complicating efforts to end a seven-year battle over the cash.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp, an independent federal agency, said it did not support an agreement reached Wednesday because it would not receive the entire $708 million it says it is owed.

James Bromley, an attorney for Nortel, said he was disappointed in the agency's opposition. "They know full well this is an appropriate and reasonable settlement."

Nortel stumbled from ranking among the world's most valuable companies during the 1990s Internet bubble to bankruptcy in 2009 and liquidation.

The sale of Nortel's businesses raised billions of dollars, and Wednesday's agreement divided that cash among former Nortel businesses in Canada, the United States and Europe, ending years of cross-border court fights.

The PBGC was not a party to the settlement, which is subject to court approval in the United States, Canada and other countries.

The agency's claim stems from the termination of Nortel's underfunded pension plan in 2009, which at the time had 22,000 participants.

The PBGC said it did not expect the settlement or its opposition to the deal to impact benefits for participants in the terminated Nortel pension plan. The agency said if its claim is not fairly resolved, however, companies that pay a premium to the PBGC to fund the agency will have to "shoulder a greater burden in the coming years."   Continued...