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Published: Friday, 7/1/2005

Group to cover pensions at Ohio firm

Pensions for 3,000 retirees and idled hourly workers at Techneglas Inc., a bankrupt Ohio maker of cathode ray tubes, will be covered by a federal insurance group. The firm had a plant in Perrysburg.

The federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. said yesterday it would assume responsibility for those pensions, because the Columbus firm's pension fund has only about 40 percent of the $164 million it needs to pay retirement benefits.

Techneglas, which had about 1,100 laid off hourly workers, including about 30 from its Perrysburg factory, has $67 million in its pension fund, and has missed $17 million in required contributions.

The company, which had plants in Columbus and Pittston, Pa., too, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September and shut down within two months. The firm said it couldn't compete with low-cost manufacturers overseas and the growth of alternative technologies such as plasma, LCD, and projection sets.

The federal insurance agency will cover about $70 million of the $97 million shortfall. Techneglas workers and retirees will have to bear the remaining $27 million shortage in the form of reduced monthly pensions or slower pension increases, a spokesman said.

Under federal law, the agency pays a maximum retirement payment at age 65 of $45,613 annually. Retirees who receive less than that should be fully compensated by the agency. Those who have been receiving more or were to receive more when they reach retirement age will find payments cut.

Techneglas, which was owned by Nippon Electric Gas Co. of Japan, began making TV picture tubes in the 1960s as a joint venture with Owens-Illinois Inc.

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