WILMINGTON, N.C. — Cooperative Bancshares said it is offering a special early retirement benefit to certain employees, including its senior vice presidents of administration, finance, and mortgage lending, as a result of changes it is making to its pension plan.

Cooperative said the modifications will result in a one-time charge of about $750,000 in the fourth quarter of 2000 and will “substantially reduce required contributions going forward.” The company estimates its pension cost and employee expenses will fall by about $775,000 annually, beginning in 2001.

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