First Mortgages, Next Pensions? Wall Street Wants Your Future

09/06/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The folks who brought you the mortgage mess and the ensuing hedge fund blowups, busted buyouts, and credit market gridlock have another bold idea: buying up and running troubled corporate pension plans. And despite the subprime fiasco, some regulators may soon embrace Wall Street's latest scheme.

The Treasury Dept. on Aug. 6 offered a blueprint for lawmakers on Capitol Hill to allow "financially strong entities in well-regulated sectors" to acquire pension plans , after the IRS ruled that the concept needed legislative approval. "The Administration's proposal says these deals should only be permitted when the acquiring entity has a higher credit-rating than the seller," says Charles Millard, director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), the federal insurer of last resort of corporate pension plans. "Such a transaction creates greater security for retirees and the pension system." The issue will now, no doubt, move to Congress after the election.


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