Daily Mail DB surplus falls to £240m

The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) defined benefit (DB) pension schemes’ pro forma net surplus has decreased from £332m to £240m across the year ended 30 September, according to the company’s annual report.

The group attributed the change to an increase in the value of its DB obligation, which it said was caused by lower discount rates, as well as a decrease in the value of the assets.

This represents a reversal of fortunes, as the schemes had increased their surplus to £325.1m at the half-year point in March.

The surplus included £117m that has been made available to the pension schemes, but which remained as cash on the company’s balance sheet, as well as the statutory net surplus of £123m.

In the ongoing year, a new funding plan agreed with the schemes’ trustees will see £121m paid into escrow, including the £117m that has been made available to the pension schemes, and direct funding payments into the schemes will be £14m.

Payments of £11m per annum will be made into the schemes from full year 2022 to 2025, while a contribution worth 20 per cent of any share buybacks will also be attributed to the scheme in certain circumstances.

Additionally, a portion of the funds in escrow will be used to fund the schemes between FY 2021 and 2027, with the amounts dependent on the actuarial deficit, interest rates and other factors, before some or all of the amount is returned to DMGT in 2027, depending on the size of the actuarial deficit.

The DB schemes are currently closed to new entrants and the next actuarial valuation is scheduled for 31 March 2022.

Reflecting on the results as a whole, DMGT CEO, Paul Zwillenberg, commented: "Our experience through Covid-19 has demonstrated the benefits of the transformation we have implemented over the last four years.

“The pandemic has brought significant disruption and change to our markets but the strategic and financial actions we have taken have ensured that we coped well and remained on the front foot.”

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