This proceeding concerns the ownership of surplus upon a wind-up of a pension plan.
As a result of the sale of its Seagrams Spirit and Wine Group to Diageo Canada Inc., (“Diageo”) and the transfer of its active employees to Diageo, Vivendi Universal Canada Inc. was ordered to wind up the Vivendi Universal Canada Inc. Retirement Plan for Hourly Employees (the “Plan”). Following the transfer of a pro rata share of surplus, and assets sufficient to satisfy transferred members’ accrued benefits to a successor plan administered by Diageo, a surplus remained in the Plan.
Koskie Minsky LLP, along with Rivest Schmidt in Montreal, was retained to represent Plan members in advocating for an equitable distribution of surplus from the Plan following its wind up.
An agreement to share the surplus in the Seagrams Hourly Pension Plan was reached with Vivendi Universal. Subject to certain expenses and deductions, the agreement provides for the sharing of surplus between Vivendi Universal and certain Plan members and beneficiaries, with 50% to be paid to Vivendi Universal, and 50% to be paid to Plan members and beneficiaries.
An application was commenced in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to approve the terms of the Surplus Sharing Agreement. The application was certified as a class proceeding by Order of the Honourable Madam Justice Hoy dated March 30, 2007, on behalf of certain members, former members and other beneficiaries of the Plan as at December 21, 2001, but not including members who transferred out of the Plan at that date, Quebec resident members, or members affected by the partial wind-up effective November 30, 1992.
By Order dated August 20, 2007, the Honourable Madam Justice Hoy approved the terms of the Surplus Sharing Agreement. Following this Order, Vivendi Universal filed an application for surplus withdrawal with the appropriate provincial regulators. Approval to the application was granted in early January 2009.