Company pension schemes
Pension systems are exposed to legal risks in particular in the event of:
- amendments to pension schemes with adjustments of acquired rights;
- pension adjustment reviews in line with section 16 of the German Act for the Improvement of Company Pension Schemes (Gesetz zur Verbesserung der betrieblichen Altersversorgung) (since they are extremely prone to error);
- court claims brought by pensioners or employees, often after several decades and which, due to their precedential nature, frequently trigger mass claims that carry high potential damage.
Company pension schemes (betriebliche Altersversorgung) thus constitute a key compliance issue for businesses.
The lawyers in our German Pensions Group can advise you on all legal aspects of company pension schemes and also work closely with our leading experts in the Corporate, Tax and Corporate Insurance practice groups in this context. As part of our Global Pensions Group, we offer cross-border expertise on company pension schemes in 14 countries with over 65 specialist lawyers.
As a key element in remuneration packages, significant focus is placed on company pension schemes:
- increasingly complex national and cross-border systems and structures;
- increasingly centralised and cost-intensive components in the competition to recruit and retain the best talent;
- treating and reporting in some cases substantial pension liabilities in financial statements very significant, not least in the current low-interest environment;
- pension liabilities raise particular questions in the context of restructurings, corporate transactions/M&A activities and company valuations, as well as on borrowing funds.
Employers are faced with the challenge of creating attractive company pension schemes, exploiting opportunities while minimising risks, in particular in respect of capital coverage for liabilities, and simultaneously optimising them on an ongoing basis.
Scope of services
- Legal aspects relating to pension schemes pursuant to the German Act for the Improvement of Company Pension Schemes / Act on the Strengthening of Company Pensions
- Pension arrangements in employment and service contracts
- Pension schemes in works agreements and collective bargaining agreements
- Adjusting substituting, reorganising and funding pension systems
- Company pension schemes in connection with M&A transactions, transformations and business transfers pursuant to section 613a of the German Civil Code
- Settlement and transfer of pension liabilities
- Annuity adjustments, portability and transfer between employers (esp. within a group)
- Company pension schemes in liquidation/crisis/insolvency (German Pension Security Association)
- Pension reinsurance policies and pledges
- Subsidiary liability in the case of external implementation methods
- Company pension schemes for board members and managing directors
- Outsourcing (establishment, review, security event) pension liabilities in contractual trust arrangements (CTAs)
- Other outsourcing of pension liabilities (genuine/pseudo pensioner companies and funding obligations)
- Review of and defence against claims relating to pension schemes
- Accounting and tax aspects
A few references
- A global US industrial gas group on substitution existing and launching new pension schemes for German plants (pension liabilities in excess of EUR 30 million) in line with requirements under collective agreements. Securing the new scheme with pension reinsurance policies/ CTAs.
- An international bank on outsourcing its uncovered pension liabilities to a pension fund and a relief fund.
- Allianz Global Investors in connection with a high-volume, international outsourcing project (multiple pension systems, CTAs).
- Bilfinger SE on selling its offshore business and transferring several pension systems in the context of an asset deal. Providing pension-specific advice, in particular in connection with the transfer of CTA assets.
- Colfax on pension-related issues in the context of acquiring the Siemens Turbomachinery Equipment Business, in particular on the purchaser establishing a CTA in order to secure pension entitlements and the transfer of pension schemes and external pension funds (relief funds) with a total volume in excess of EUR 40 million.
- A bank and a property management company on transferring pension liabilities to a liquidity insurer.
- Deutsche Lufthansa AG on transitional and traditional pension schemes.
- An international financial undertaking with 140,000 employees worldwide on outsourcing all pension liabilities while substituting old schemes existing with current (executive) employees and former employees. Negotiating works agreements relating to transitional agreements with external pension funds.
- A European aircraft manufacturer on spinning off pension liabilities and on CTA-related questions in connection with the planned sale of a business division.
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