EBSA News Release: [09/17/2009]
Contact Name: Gloria Della
Phone Number: (202) 693-8664
Release Number: 09-1148-NAT
U.S. Labor Department proposes exemption to allow new health plan for General Motors retirees to acquire company securities
WASHINGTON The U.S. Department of Laborís Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today announced a proposed exemption that, if granted, would allow the General Motors Co. (GM) to transfer company securities including common stock, preferred stock and a $2.5 billion promissory note, to a health plan established for the companyís retirees. The retiree health plan will cover approximately 700,000 retirees and dependents when it becomes effective on Dec. 31, 2009.
GM is the successor company that purchased substantially all of the assets of General Motors Corp. (the old GM), which filed for bankruptcy on June 1, 2009. GM is headquartered in Detroit, Mich.
The large transfer of employer securities to the plan violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). ERISA prohibits certain plans from holding large percentages of plan assets in the form of employer securities. The law gives the department authority, however, to grant exemptions that protect the interests of plan participants and beneficiaries.
The exemption would allow the securities transfer, permit GM and its health plans to reimburse each other for benefit payments mistakenly paid by the wrong entity during the transition to the new plan, and permit GM to recover mistaken deposits to the plan.
A major condition of the proposal is the appointment of an independent fiduciary to represent the plan with regard to GM securities transactions. The independent fiduciary will determine in advance of taking any action regarding the securities that the action is in the interests of the plan and its participants and beneficiaries. The proposed exemption also requires the review of benefit payments by an independent third party administrator and auditor for each of the plans and an objective dispute resolution process. In addition, the proposal set time limits for return of mistaken deposits and an objective dispute resolution process.
The proposed exemption is scheduled to be published in the Sept. 18, 2009, edition of the Federal Register. Comments on the proposal and any requests for a public hearing should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to 202-219-0204. Paper-based comments should be sent to the Office of Exemption Determinations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Room N-5700, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, Attention: Application Number L-11568.