Exxon Mobil '08 pension deficit doubles to $15 bln

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp's XOM.N pension deficit, which was the highest among U.S. blue chip companies in 2007, more than doubled in 2008 to above $15 billion, according to a filing by the oil company on Friday.

The company said it expects to make a total of $4.6 billion in contributions to the plans in 2009.

At the end of 2007, Exxon had the largest pension deficit among companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500, with a $6.7 billion shortfall.

Exxon’s U.S. pension plans, which are 73 percent invested in equities, were hit particularly hard in 2008, with the deficit growing to $6.6 billion from $1.4 billion a year before.

“Our plans are down with the market,” spokesman Chris Welberry said. “Regardless of the current funding status of the underlying plans, all our defined benefit pension obligations are supported by the financial strength of the company.”

Exxon’s non-U.S. pension deficit grew to $8.7 billion from $5.3 billion, the company said in the regulatory filing. Of the non-U.S. pension assets, 63 percent were held in equities.

A month ago, the world’s largest listed company reported a full-year profit of $45.2 billion, setting a new company and U.S. record. (Reporting by Braden Reddall; editing by Carol Bishopric)