VEBA hires CIO, files federal proposals

VEBA hires CIO, files federal proposals
Barry Burr
Automotive News | October 26, 2009 – 10:30 am EST

DETROIT — The new UAW voluntary employee beneficiary association won’t officially open for business until Jan. 1. But the association, with more than $37 billion in assets, is hiring staff and working on legal requirements of operation.

Eric Henry, who resigned in August as executive director and CIO of the $15.6 billion Texas Municipal Retirement System based in Austin, will lead the VEBA’s investment staff as CIO.

The VEBA is expected to be based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The association was created through agreements with General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC to shift the remainder of their retiree medical care obligations to the new trust.

Ridgeway Partners LLC, with U.S. offices in New York and Boston, was hired to assist in recruiting candidates for positions.

The VEBA is expected to rely on external personnel in managing its assets. The fund will consist of diversified investments and securities of the auto companies.

GM and Chrysler have filed proposals with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration seeking exemptions under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to contribute company securities to the VEBA. The EBSA, which must approve the exemption, has opened a 45-day period for each proposal for submission of public comments on the proposals.

GM filed its proposal in September; Chrysler’s proposal was filed earlier this month.

The VEBA was created through labor contracts with the three auto companies before GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection this year. Both companies emerged from their bankruptcies weeks later under a bailout plan that gave the VEBA part ownership in the restructured companies. Ford did not file for bankruptcy protection.

The VEBA has an 11-member board made up of five UAW officials and six independent members.

The three-member investment committee consists of two independent trustees: Olena Berg-Lacy, former assistant secretary of the Labor Department’s EBSA, and Robert Naftaly, retired president and CEO of PPOM, an independent operating subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The third member will be UAW trustee Daniel Sherrick, director of the union’s legal department.

Michigan-based independent board members include: David Baker Lewis, CEO of law firm Lewis & Munday, Detroit; Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation; and Edward Welch, professor emeritus, School of Labor and Industrial Relations, Michigan State University.

The VEBA is searching for independent trustee companies to oversee the securities of GM and Chrysler, a primary condition of the DOL exemptions, if granted.



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