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Federal Agency Takes Over Fleming Pension Plan

ATLANTA - Bankrupt grocery distributor Fleming Cos. said on Thursday that a federal agency has taken responsibility for its underfunded pension plan that provides benefits to about 17,600 workers and retirees, Reuters reports.

Fleming said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the pension plan was terminated on Jan. 1, 2004. The federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. is now the plan's trustee, the filing said.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. spokesman Jeffrey Speicher told Reuters that the government agency has insured pension benefits under the plan that accrued up to Jan. 1, and Fleming workers will be paid benefits they earned up to that date.

"We expect there will be very few that see any reduction in benefits," Speicher told Reuters. "Most people will receive the full amount of the pension benefit that they earned" up until the plan's termination.

Speicher said Fleming's plan was underfunded by about $374 million.

Fleming and its subsidiaries continue to sponsor four other pension plans, the SEC filing said.
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