PBGC Takes Over Eddie Bauer Pensions

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp said on Wednesday it has taken over responsibility for underfunded pensions of sportswear retailer Eddie Bauer Inc.

The plan, which covers more than 1,800 former workers and retirees, was 58 percent funded, with $29.8 million in assets to cover $51.4 million in benefit liabilities, the PBGC said.

Eddie Bauer, filed for bankruptcy protection in June and sold all of its assets to investment firm Golden Gate Capital, which did not take over responsibility for the pension plan.

The company, which was founded as a Seattle sports shop in 1920 and at one time owned by catalog retailer Spiegel Inc, was been hit by the U.S. recession last year and found itself unable to handle its debt load.

The PBGC, which acts as the U.S. pension insurance agency, has taken over pension plans from a bevy of bankrupt companies over the past year. It currently guarantees payment of basic pension benefits for 44 million U.S. workers and retirees.

The case is In re: Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, no. 09-12099. (Reporting by Emily Chasan; editing by Andre Grenon)