The chief executive of the Pensions Board, Brendan Kennedy, has said more defined benefit pensions schemes face the prospect of being wound up.

Mr Kennedy said 80% of defined benefit schemes are in deficit.

He was speaking after it emerged Independent News and Media is considering shutting its defined benefit scheme.

He said new regulations mean companies will have to address shortfalls in their schemes and produce plans for the Pensions Board this year.

In some "extreme cases" winding up the scheme was possible, while in others members faced reduced contributions, he added.

It emerged earlier that media group Independent News and Media is considering winding up its defined benefit pension scheme because it faces a deficit which may not be corrected in the timeframe allowed under new regulations.

The development is likely to result in greatly reduced benefits for some members of the scheme who are under 65. However, no final decision has been made by the company.

At Independent's AGM last week the company said it was working on plans to address its pension fund shortfall. The group's defined benefit scheme has a €148m deficit.

The company had proposed reducing benefits and trying to return it to a surplus over 15 years.

But new Pension Board regulations mean that timeframe is not going to be acceptable and the collapse in markets means earlier commitments are unlikely to be met.

Now management is actively considering winding up the scheme and distributing the proceeds. That would mean reduced benefits for under 65s who are former or existing employees.

However, it is understood the plan would see those close to retirement getting more but younger members may only receive about half what they expected.

If the plan is agreed it will also require the company to put more money into the fund.

The development underlines the headache facing a large numbers of Irish workers whose defined pension schemes face significant shortfalls.

(This article is written by RTÉ's Business Editor David Murphy who is a deferred member of the INM pension scheme)

INM to delist in New Zealand

Independent News and Media today also announced that it will delist from the New Zealand stock exchange from next Friday.

The company said it will continue to be listed on both the Dublin and London Stock Exchanges.