Johnnie Walker Owner Funding Pension With Booze

Not every company can use its product to fund its employees’ pensions. But Diageo, which produces Johnnie Walker, has managed to do just that. The company has handed over ownership of $645 million worth of whiskey to a pension fund. If the company goes bust, the employees could get to keep the scotch, though it’s more likely they’d sell it for market value and take the cash.

The way the plan is structured, nobody expects the employees to take their retirement pay in whiskey, though it’s theoretically possible if the company goes under. The fund really works by providing a steady stream of cash to the pension as the scotchmatures:

“A pension funding partnership will be formed, which will hold maturing whiskey spirit as assets,” Diageo, which also makes Guinness stout and Smirnoff vodka, said in a statement.

As part of the deal, Diageo agreed to pay the pension partnership £25 million a year as it sells the recently distilled whiskey once it matures after three years and replaces it with new stock. The agreement would expire after 15 years, at which point Diageo would buy back the whiskey, which comes from distilleries such Oban on the west coast of Scotland.

What if the workers really decide they’d prefer hooch to cash? They may just have to settle for employee discounts.

Diageo Uses Scotch to Plug Gap in Pension Plan – [NYTimes.com]