Gross assets at 31 March 2011 were £3,051 million, £237 million lower than the previous year principally as a result of the disposal of EU Sugars and Molasses. Net assets increased by £119 million to £973 million driven by the profits generated in the year and actuarial gains relating to our post retirement plans partially offset by dividend payments and foreign exchange losses on the translation of overseas subsidiaries.
We maintain pension plans for our employees in a number of countries. Some of these arrangements are defined benefit pension schemes and, although we have closed the main UK scheme to future accrual and commenced the process for closing the US schemes to future accrual during the year, legacy obligations remain. In the USA, we also provide medical and life assurance benefits as part of the retirement package.
The net deficit on our post retirement obligations reduced by £118 million to £139 million at 31 March 2011 from £257 million in the prior year principally as a result of increasing asset valuations and cash contributions during the year. The UK pension obligations relating to EU Sugars and Molasses remained with the Group.