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Fairfax to wind up staff pension schemes

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/09/2016 Paul McBeth

Fairfax New Zealand, the newspaper publisher seeking to merge with rival NZME, will wind up its two staff pension schemes today as dwindling membership coincided with multiple rounds of job cuts in recent years, while new staff signed up to state-sponsored KiwiSaver.

The Wellington-based subsidiary of Australia's Fairfax Media Group will close the Fairfax New Zealand Retirement Fund and Fairfax NZ Senior Executive Superannuation Scheme from Sept. 30, accounts for the two pension funds show.

BusinessDesk understands members are expected to be paid 90 percent of what's owing by the end of October.

"Membership of the superannuation fund has reduced significantly in recent years as most new employees join KiwiSaver," Fairfax NZ communications manager Emma Carter said in an emailed statement.

Fairfax and NZME have continued to keep a lid on costs as they await regulatory approval to merge, which they say will give them a fighting chance in the digital advertising market against global giants such as Google and Facebook.

That's involved shrinking the size of their newsrooms and prioritising online over print, which continues to generate the bulk of their revenue.

The publisher transferred $72.4 million of assets into the fund in 2007 from the now-closed Fairfax New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

Since then, Fairfax New Zealand's staff has more than halved, with 1,197 full-time equivalents and 88 casual and part-timers employed as at June 30, down from 2,353 FTEs and 488 part-timers at the end of the 2008 year.

Carter said members were consulted throughout the process about the winding down of the funds, and offered help with making decisions because of the closures.

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