Anheuser-Busch to Freeze Pensions, But Leaves Match Intact

Anheuser-Busch plans to freeze its pension plan for salaried employees, eliminate retiree health coverage for new employees and ask retirees to contribute more to their health benefits – but isn’t cutting its 401(k) match.
According to the St. Louis Business Journal, James Brickey, vice president of people, told salaried employees in an internal memo Wednesday that defined contribution plans are preferred over defined benefit plans, or pension plans, “because they provide more predictable cash flows and expense for the company.’
The memo also stated “We will soon be bringing these retirement plans more in line with other businesses and with our global company’, noting that “the level of benefits will change to the 50th percentile of the U.S. market,’ according to the Business Journal.
The brewer will freeze its salaried pension plan January 1, 2012, while the current 401(k) match rate of 91.68% will continue for at least the remainder of calendar year 2009.
The company is also asking retirees to contribute more to their health benefits, which will no longer be offered to workers hired January 1, 2010, or after.
“Less than half of all large companies our size in the United States offer any type of retiree health care. Of those that do, the cost-share is substantially higher than what our retirees currently pay,’ Brickey wrote, according to the report. “Therefore, the health care cost-share for salaried retirees under age 65 will increase from 40 percent to 50 percent in 2010 and to 60 percent in 2011 … The cost-share for retirees age 65 and older will increase 10% points per year (from 40% today) until 2015 when this company-provided supplement to Medicare will be phased out.’
St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch is now a subsidiary of Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev.