On June 9, 2021, approximately 2,300 pensioners of RB Pamplin became part owners of what has been dubbed the “Swan Estate.”
On that date, the $105 million RB Pamplin Corporation and its subsidiary, Pension and Trust, purchased a parcel of property from the associated Pamplin Corporation and paid $1.62 million in interest on the land installment.
It is not clear where Swann’s property is located. Its size and address were not disclosed in the fund’s annual report prepared last month.
But more importantly, federal pension regulators prohibit companies from selling assets to their own pension funds. This is a long-standing practice of RB Pamplin Corp. WW First reported last winter (“Trader Bob”, February 23).
But last year, RB Pamplin Corp. began land deals with pension funds at extraordinary speed and scale.
Over the next six months, the Fund purchased 14 more fractional interests in the same property, in each case commemorating the transaction with a new deed. The sale of Swann’s assets transferred his $10 million in cash from the pension fund to Pamplin’s operating company.
In all, the Pamplin Pension Fund has purchased real estate from Pamplin-owned affiliates in 30 separate transactions in 2021 for a total of $16.97 million. In fact, Pamplin’s operating company has furiously exchanged unwanted real estate for cash.
For example, in 2019 and 2020 combined there were 14 such deals with pension funds, less than half the number reported in 2021.
The new details, based on a federal disclosure the pension fund filed with the U.S. Department of Labor in late October, shed new light on the matter of Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.
Pamplin, 81, is the president of RB Pamplin Corporation, a company founded by his father. The company grew from a textile mill in the south to the sand and gravel of Ross Island, Oregon, where he has an 81,000-acre cattle ranch, two vineyards, and 24 newspaper offices.of portland tribune.
In the 1990s, bread pudding forbes Although on the list of the 400 richest Americans, his fortune has plummeted since then.
“Dr. Pamplin was a great man and he had a hand in many businesses. tribune “The ghost town of Shaniko, the Christian music business, his radio station, the sand and gravel of Ross Island, the textile mills… One by one, they seem to fall apart. It’s like Midas Touch in reverse. .”
According to US Department of Labor regulations, pension funds should not hold more than 10% of their assets in real estate acquired from related parties. At the end of 2020, the Pamplin Fund held 24% of its assets in such properties. New filings show share climbed to 36% by the end of 2020 and is now well over 40% as additional deals are reported in audited financial reports for 2022 .
Robert Pamplin owns and operates RB Pamplin Corp. He is also the sole trustee of the Pamplin Pension Fund. In other words, when Pamplin’s operating company sells a property to a pension fund, Pamplin’ acts as both a buyer and a seller. He wants to sell at the highest possible price for the company, whereas he wants to buy at the lowest possible price for the pension fund, which puts him in a position of inherent conflict.
“In layman’s terms, it’s self-dealing,” says James Ambrose, a Portland pension attorney who reviewed the new federal application. “Pamplin is on both sides of the deal. This is especially concerning if the plan is buying the property.”
The Department of Labor classifies the sale of real estate from a business company to an associated pension fund as a “prohibited transaction” due to the high risk and potential for misuse. The agency requires pension trustees wishing to conduct such transactions to apply for and obtain a waiver for each transaction.
DOL spokesman Michael Petersen said: WW Despite all of the banned real estate transactions from 2019 to 2021, Pamplin never sought a waiver. (Petersen declined to comment on whether his agency is investigating the Pamplin Pension Fund.) The DOL declined to comment on the story.
A portion of the property sold by Pamplin to the pension fund is unused or underutilized industrial property, which is then leased back from the fund by the operating company.
Real estate deals look dubious, but the good news for pensioners is that the fund holds enough assets to cover its debt if the real estate is worth the fund’s valuation. .
Property prices are based on third-party valuations, which are not made public, according to fund documents. WW Pamplin subsidiary Ross Island Sand & Gravel reports that the value of two prominent parcels transferred to pension funds – an abandoned waterfront concrete factory and Ross Island itself – appears to be grossly overvalued. It has been.
As WW previously reported, Pamplin’s businesses have struggled in recent years to meet their financial obligations, including property and withholding taxes.
What appears to be a cash shortage may explain the pension deal.Prior to 2018, the pension plan’s written contribution policy required parent company RB Pamplin Corp. to fund its obligations to beneficiaries. I was asking for an annual cash contribution to do so. Records show that the policy changed in 2018 to allow “cash or property donations.” Since then, the parent company has rarely donated cash.
A Pamplin spokesperson previously said, WW All pension fund transactions are lawful and prudent, and Pamplin’s operating company is in sound financial standing. A spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
November 1st, tribune, which had been distributed for free for 20 years, has moved to a subscription-only model. This shows how tough the newspaper business is for all publishers.
Former Ben Jacklet tribune The reporter says he sympathizes with his old colleagues and other Pamplin staff and pensioners.
“I am very happy that I was able to cash in Pamplin’s annuity when I had the chance,” says Jacquelett. “I am sorry to all our employees and former employees who are stuck in the midst of this turmoil.”