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BT pension black hole risks dividends BT's pension deficit has rocketed 50pc to more than 10bn in 18 months, putting the telecom giant's sacred dividend payments at risk, just as it attempts to protect its costly sports content rights.
Following a health check of Britain's biggest private sector retirement plan, analysts at investment bank Macquarie estimate that the pension black hole has shot up to 10.6bn, from 7bn at its last official review in 2014. In 2011, the shortfall stood at 4.1bn. BT would need to increase its deficit payments to 1bn a year until 2030 to plug the new deficit, Macquarie's research claims. The 38pc increase on the company's current recovery kate spade sale on sale plan could result in BT halving its current dividend growth rate of 10pc. The news will be a huge concern to shareholders. BT is considered a safe haven for investors who have enjoyed years of growing dividend payments. BT's pension trustees are due to provide their own updated figure on the deficit later this year. With more than 300,000 members, BT manages Britain's biggest company pension fund, which has a 40bn war chest to pay employees past and present their retirement income. The telecoms giant's deficit payments reached 880m in the last financial year, up from 876m in the year to March 31 2015, but in the same period dividend payouts reached a record 1.08bn, up 17pc from last year. Attempts by BT to close its massive shortfall have so far proved "insufficient" despite the company initiating a recovery plan in early 2015, according to Guy Peddy, an kate spade purses cyber monday analyst at Macquarie. "Clearly BT's plan will prove insufficient," said Mr Peddy. "We can't see BT scaling back on sports content or its infrastructure, so the only option left is to soften shareholders' returns." A steep decline in government bonds and poor market returns prompted Macquarie to produce its own estimate of the deficit, which is due a fresh valuation by trustees in June 2017. But ahead of next year's review, BT has itself hinted that shareholders will be hit by a pensions gulf. The company said in its annual report earlier this month: "Higher deficit kate spade store near me payments could mean less money available to invest, pay out as dividends or repay debt as it matures.
" BT is poised to plough hundreds of millions of pounds into buying new sports rights at the Champions League auction in November, as it aims to bolster its position as a provider of "quadplay" services, combining TV, mobile, broadband and phone packages. The black hole estimate casts further doubt over the ability of big businesses to plug huge gaps in their retirement schemes. The struggling homeware chain BHS, facing scrutiny over its own pension kate spade laptop sleeve sale shortfall, has been given six months to agree a plan with the pensions regulator to plug a 571m deficit.
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