Lang backs pensions crackdown

The Government will incorporate new proposals for much greater disclosure of directors' pension entitlements into the Companies Act, Ian Lang, President of the Board of Trade, said yesterday.

This followed confirmation by the Stock Exchange that it had agreed to changes in its rulebook to enforce recommendations on pensions disclosure by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

The actuaries have come down in favour of a compromise to satisfy the objections of big companies and the CBI and the Institute of Directors to their original proposal, which was to publish the full transfer value of directors' pensions.

The employers proposed watering this down so only the amount of pension payable in retirement was disclosed in annual reports.

Disclosure of capital values - essentially the cost of funding these pension payments - would be around 10 times as high and would lead to severe embarrassment for some companies. In the case of senior directors who take large pay increases near retirement, this could throw up multi- million-pound figures.

After extensive consultations, the actuaries found opinion was split, with investors leaning towards disclosure of capital values and many companies following the CBI line.

The compromise to be adopted by the Stock Exchange and the DTI is to require companies to report the amount of pension payable annually in retirement, as the CBI wants.

In addition, they must either give the capital value or enough further information for outsiders to make their own calculations of the capital value. The information will cover at least seven headings.