Fran Hawthorne is an accomplished journalist who over the last 20 years has specialized in finding and writing about the intersection of corporate America and timely and sometimes contentious social issues. She’s written articles for publications such as Fortune, Business Week, and Institutional Investor and has authored books on such issues as the dangers of obesity drugs, the trade-off between campaign contributions and state bond underwriting, and Medicaid manipulation.

Now Ms. Hawthorne has turned her attention to an important issue that in today’s economy isn’t going away anytime soon, pension plan terminations. In her new book, Pension Dumping: The Reasons, the Wreckage, the Stakes for Wall Street, Ms. Hawthorne takes an in-depth look on what happens when financially troubled companies terminate their defined benefit pension plans through bankruptcy.

I had the opportunity to interview Ms. Hawthorne who has, no doubt, a point of view starting with the title of her book. She builds a case about why pension dumping (her term) has become an increasingly common practice in the wake of bankruptcy and how investors are profiting off the wreckage.

Agree or disagree with her, her well researched book which includes case studies and interviews provides analysis and insight on the complicated and competing dynamics involved with the termination of a defined benefit pension plan:

  • Competing interests in bankruptcy court
  • The choices that unions have to make
  • The financial burdens assumed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
  • The risks that investors take and the returns they look for
  • The issues that companies must deal with as they restructure

Ms. Hawthorne’s book should appeal to anyone involved with pension plans, e.g., CEOs, CFOs, HR professionals, union leaders, professional advisors, and policy makers. And if so, here is a link to Amazon.