Assets nearly back to early-2008 levels

After being clobbered in 2008 and losing 26% of its value, the Directors Guild of America’s pension plan regained most of its value last year.

Assets in the DGA plan, which covers nearly 10,000 participants, carried a fair market value of $946.7 million as of Dec. 31 compared with $786.6 million at the end of 2008. Fair market value of the assets had been $1.063 billion at the end of 2007, prior to the market meltdown in fall 2008.

Trustees of the plan — a separate entity from the guild that’s jointly administered by reps of the DGA and the industry — began sending the notices to participants in recent days.

The 2008 decline of the value of the DGA plan was similar to that of the SAG, WGA and AFTRA plans. And the issue of funding the guild pension and health care plans will likely be a factor in the next round of contract negotiations this fall, with SAG and AFTRA launching their talks on Oct. 1 and the DGA set for mid-November.

Employers pay 14% (8.5% to health, 5.5% to pension) for the DGA, 14.5% (8.5% health, 6% pension) for the WGA, 15% (9.25%, 5.75%) for SAG and 15% (9.75%, 5.25%) for AFTRA on top of every dollar of compensation into the pension and health plans.

The DGA, SAG and AFTRA master contracts all expire on June 30, 2011.

The DGA disclosures were contained in the annual funding notice sent to participants in recent days. The notice included a breakdown of asset allocation, with stocks accounting for the largest portion at 33.8%.

Funded percentage of the DGA plan — the value of assets compared with the value of liabilities — was 90.7% as of the start of 2009, well above the “endangered” status for plans with a funded percentage of less than 80%. The notice pointed out that the DGA’s plan was not in endangered or “critical” status of less than 65%, which requires trustees of the plan to adopt a rehabilitation program.

Trustees of SAG’s pension plan recently notified participants that funding for its pension plan are still “endangered,” though it has improved slightly over last year, when it was hammered by investment losses ( Daily Variety , April 27).

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