Gannett Revises 401(k) Stock Rule

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(AP) Gannett Co. Inc., the country’s largest newspaper publisher, revised its 401(k) plan Tuesday to allow employees greater flexibility to sell Gannett stock in order to diversify their investments.

Gannett, which publishes USA Today and 94 other U.S.-based daily newspapers, matches employees’ contributions to the 401(k) retirement plan with company stock.

Under the old rules, employees under age 55 were prohibited from selling the Gannett shares provided through the company match. The new rules allow all employees the immediate right to sell the company stock.

It will take about a month to implement the change, said Gannett Chairman Douglas H. McCorkindale.

“Our board reviewed the 401(k) plan restrictions and decided they simply were outmoded,” McCorkindale said. “The directors want to provide our employees with the flexibility to plan their own financial future.”

Several companies have revamped their 401(k) plans in recent months to give employees more flexibility in the wake of the Enron scandal. Thousands of Enron employees lost their life savings when the stock tanked and employees were unable to sell shares that were part of their 401(k) plan.

Unlike some other companies, though, Gannett’s plan never required employees to invest their own 401(k) contributions into company stock. About 10% of the fund’s overall value is invested voluntarily in Gannett stock.

The mandatory, employer-match portion of the fund that has been invested exclusively in Gannett stock accounted for another 13.5% of the fund’s value.

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