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Hearing on Proposed Individual Exemption Involving the Northwest Airlines Pension Plan for Salaried Employees, the Northwest Airlines Pension Plan for Pilot Employees, and the Northwest Airlines Pension Plan for Contract Employees (collectively, the Plans)   [3/11/2003]
[PDF]
FR Doc 03-5613

[Federal Register: March 11, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 47)]
[Notices]               
[Page 11589-11590]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr11mr03-98]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Employee Benefits Security Administration

[Application Numbers D-11137, 11138, and 11139]

 
Hearing on Proposed Individual Exemption Involving the Northwest 
Airlines Pension Plan for Salaried Employees, the Northwest Airlines 
Pension Plan for Pilot Employees, and the Northwest Airlines Pension 
Plan for Contract Employees (collectively, the Plans)

AGENCY: Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor.

ACTION: Notice of hearing.

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SUMMARY: Notice is hereby given that the Department of Labor will hold 
a hearing on May 5 and if necessary, May 6, 2003, relating to a 
proposed exemption from certain prohibited transaction restrictions of 
the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA or the Act) 
and from certain taxes imposed by the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 
(the Code) for the Plans. A notice of pendency of the proposed 
exemption was published in the Federal Register at 68 FR 2578 (January 
17, 2003).

DATES: The hearing will be held on May 5 and, if necessary, May 6, 
2003, beginning at 9:30 a.m., EST.

ADDRESSES: The hearing will be held at the Department of Labor, Rooms 
N-3437A & B, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., 
Washington, DC 20210.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Wendy M. McColough or Christopher 
Motta, Office of Exemption Determinations, Employee Benefits Security 
Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, telephone (202) 693-8540 
(this is not a toll-free number).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On January 17, 2003, the Department of Labor 
(the Department) published in the Federal Register at 68 FR 2578 a 
notice of pendency of a proposed individual exemption for the Plans 
from the restrictions of sections 406(a), 406(b)(1) and (b)(2), and 
407(a) of the Act and from the sanctions resulting from the

[[Page 11590]]

application of section 4975 (a) and (b) of the Code, by reason of 
section 4975(c)(1) (A) through (E) of the Code.
    In that notice, the Department invited interested persons to submit 
written comments and any requests for a public hearing on the proposed 
exemption.
    As explained in the notice of pendency, the proposed exemption was 
requested in an application filed on behalf of Northwest Airlines, Inc. 
(Northwest) as plan sponsor and named fiduciary to the Plans, pursuant 
to section 408(a) of the Act and section 4975(c)(2) of the Code and in 
accordance with the procedures set forth in 29 CFR part 2570, subpart B 
at 55 FR 32836, 32847 (August 10, 1990). If granted, the proposed 
exemption would permit: (1) The in-kind contribution(s) of the common 
stock of either Pinnacle Airlines, Inc. or Pinnacle Airlines Corp. 
(Pinnacle Stock) to the Plans by Northwest, a party in interest with 
respect to such Plans; (2) the holding of the Pinnacle Stock by the 
Plans; (3) the sale of the Pinnacle Stock by the Plans to Northwest; 
and (4) the acquisition, holding, and exercise by the Plans of a put 
option (the Put Option) granted to the Plans by Northwest.
    In response to the solicitation of comments from interested 
persons, the Department has received over 500 letters, e-mails, faxes 
or phone calls, of which more than 300 request that a hearing be held 
on the proposed exemption. The commenters expressed concern generally 
about the effect of the proposed exemption on the Plans. The concerns 
expressed generally related to the proposed contribution of Pinnacle 
Stock instead of a cash contribution to the Plans; the value and method 
of valuation of the Pinnacle Stock; the effects of the proposed 
transactions on the Plans; and the adequacy of the proposed safeguards 
that are intended to protect the Plans' interests.
    The submissions received by the Department are available for public 
inspection in the Public Disclosure Room of the Employee Benefits 
Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Room N-1513, 200 
Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210.
    In view of the comments requesting a hearing on the proposed 
exemption, the Department has decided to hold a hearing on the proposed 
exemption on May 5 and, if necessary, May 6, 2003 beginning at 9:30 
a.m., EST, in Rooms N-3437 A & B at the Department of Labor, 200 
Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC.
    Any interested person who wishes to be assured of an opportunity to 
present oral comments at the hearing should submit by 3:30 p.m., EST, 
April 26, 2003: (1) A written request to be heard; and (2) five copies 
of an outline of the topics to be discussed. The request to be heard 
and accompanying outline should be sent to: Office of Exemption 
Determinations, Room N-5649, Employee Benefits Security Administration, 
U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 
20210, ``Attention: Northwest Exemption Hearing.'' Copies of your 
mailed submission may be sent by electronic mail to 
moffittb@pwba.dol.gov.
    The Department will prepare an agenda indicating the order of 
presentation of oral comments. In the absence of special circumstances, 
each commenter will be allotted ten minutes in which to complete his or 
her presentation. Information about the agenda may be obtained on or 
after April 30, 2003 by contacting Wendy M. McColough or Christopher 
Motta, Office of Exemption Determinations, Employee Benefits Security 
Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, telephone (202) 693-8540 
(this is not a toll-free number). Those individuals who make oral 
comments at the hearing should be prepared to answer questions 
regarding their comments. The hearing will be transcribed.

Notice to Interested Persons

    Within fifteen (15) calendar days of publication of the Notice of 
Public Hearing (the Notice) in the Federal Register, Northwest shall 
provide notice to all participants of the Plans (including active 
employees, separated vested participants and retirees) by mailing first 
class a photocopy of the Notice. Northwest shall also provide the 
Notice by first class mailing to the representatives of the unions that 
represent employees of Northwest who currently participate in the 
Plans.

Notice of Public Hearing

    Notice is hereby given that a public hearing will be held on May 5 
and if necessary, May 6, 2003, regarding a proposed exemption from 
certain prohibited transaction restrictions of the Employee Retirement 
Income Security Act of 1974 and from certain taxes imposed by the 
Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for transactions involving the Northwest 
Airlines Pension Plan for Salaried Employees, the Northwest Airlines 
Pension Plan for Pilot Employees, and the Northwest Airlines Pension 
Plan for Contract Employees.
    The hearing will be held, beginning at 9:30 a.m., EST, in Rooms N-
3437 A & B at the Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., 
Washington, DC.

    Signed at Washington, DC this 4th day of March 2003.
Ivan L. Strasfeld,
Director, Office of Exemption, Determinations, Employee Benefits 
Security Administration, Department of Labor.
[FR Doc. 03-5613 Filed 3-10-03; 8:45 am]

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