Sections

IPE at 15: 15 years in pensions

1997
FEBRUARY:
The DM22bn Siemens SKAG investment operation in Munich says it is considering offering investment services to third parties.

MARCH: Ireland takes the first steps towards reforming occupational pensions with the launch of the National Pensions Policy Initiative, a consultation exercise aimed at addressing the country's 48% level of occupational pensions coverage.

APRIL: Luxembourg takes the wraps off a ‘European pension fund' as a single pension scheme with common rules for all of a company's employees in different member states.

JUNE: The Norwegian Petroleum Fund, set up in 1990, makes changes to its investment guidelines, enabling it to invest in international equities. It expects total fund assets to hit $14bn by end 1997.

JULY/AUGUST: The EC publishes its green paper ‘Supplementary pensions in a single market', which supports an Anglo-Dutch-style asset management.

SEPTEMBER: The UK Chancellor's budget raid on pension funds by the abolition of advance corporation tax credits is expected to cost pension funds £3.5bn.

NOVEMBER: Sweden's report on the PPM premium reserve pension system where 2% of pay would be allocated to investment funds, is presented by Hans Jacobson.

DECEMBER: The Czech Republic says it is planning a second pillar pension reform based on the Polish model.

1998
JANUARY:
Irish pension funds are hit hard by the unexpected abolition of Corporation Tax credits announced in the Irish budget.

FEBRUARY: With the creation of Association Suisse des Institutions de prévoyance (ASIP) Swiss pension funds have a unified representative body for the first time.

MARCH: Custody mandate shake-up in the Netherlands continues following the central bank DNB's decision to withdraw from the custody services area.

APRIL: Frank Russell Company and Société Générale Asset Management (SGAM) create a joint venture to introduce multi-manager funds to continental Europe.

JUNE: Luxembourg is a step closer to realising its European pension plans as the government reviews proposals for two Luxembourg-domiciled pooled fund vehicles.

JULY/AUGUST: Five-party agreement on new pension system is reached in the
Swedish parliament.

SEPTEMBER: The Swiss finance world sighs in relief as the deadlock in discussions between Jewish groups and Swiss banks is ended. A boycott of Swiss financial services, backed by US state pension funds, had already been scheduled for 1 September.

NOVEMBER: In a speech, EU commissioner Mario Monti underlines his commitment to the prudent-man principle to be included in the final draft for the EU pensions directive presented in early 1999.

DECEMBER: ABN AMRO and Mellon announce a joint venture to provide global custody services initially in Europe and later worldwide.

1999
JANUARY:
The adoption of the euro by 11 EU members had a major impact on pension funds, leaving them free to invest across the euro-zone and removing the currency risk associated with variable exchange rates.

FEBRUARY: French finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn pledges to provide France with an "appropriate" retirement funding system by the end of the year.

MARCH: The UK government publishes a welfare reform and pensions bill outlining the framework for stakeholder pension schemes and allowing the rebating of national insurance contributions to workers opting out of SERPS.

APRIL: New investment guidelines for Belgium pension funds abolish a minimum 15% investment level in government bonds and shift the focus to prudence, diversification, liquidity and returns.

MAY: Agreement that the caretaker EC could advance the planned EU pensions directive removes fears it would be dropped after the mass resignation of the EC led by Jacques Santer.

JUNE: Luxembourg's parliament approves legislation to allow the establishment of its European pension fund vehicles the SEPCAV and the ASSEP.

JULY/AUGUST: The European Commission directorate for employment, industrial relations and social affairs (DG V) warns that early retirement options in supplementary pension schemes are damaging.

SEPTEMBER: Pierre Bollon, director of French asset management body AFG-ASFFI, announces the intention to establish a European asset management association.

DECEMBER: A report by Brussels-based Pragma Consulting managing director Koen De Ryck says funding of PAYG schemes would rise to 15% of GDP in 2015 from 9% in 1995, and that the resulting shortfall would be 6% of GDP.

2000
FEBRUARY:
French employers' federation MEDEF votes to withdraw from the 50-year-old administrative partnership with trade unions to run France's social security funds in protest at the government's pension reform proposal.

MARCH: A government report proposing the injection of greater competition into Finland's restricted pensions and insurance market raises expectations of a radical shake-up of the institutional investment environment.

APRIL: The National Association of Pension Funds unveils UKIPS, the British version of the Global Investment Performance Standards.

MAY: Switzerland's pension fund association ASIP joins Watson Wyatt to produce an investment performance comparison universe for Swiss pension funds.

JUNE: Unilever becomes the first multinational to set up a Luxembourg-based umbrella fund for its expatriate employees under the Grand Duchy's new ASSEP/SEPCAV pension investment fund law.

JULY/AUGUST: Venture capital grouping EVCA says that in 1999 there was a record level of European private equity investment at €25.4bn, up 25% on 1998, with pension fund investments accounting for 18.7% of new fund sources.

SEPTEMBER: Dresdner Bank sets up an independent consultancy company to give pensions advice.

OCTOBER: Sweden's premium pension system (PPM) is launched, a year behind schedule, with 455 funds in its catalogue and 70 participating asset management groups. Swedes invest 2.5% of their social security contribution.

NOVEMBER: the Belgian government approves the establishment of industry-wide pension funds and a ‘Silver Fund' reserve.

DECEMBER: Gartmore's Paul Myners recommends scrapping of the minimum funding requirement for pension funds in his interim report on the UK pension fund industry.

2001
JANUARY:
The Irish Parliament gives the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) the green light. This was the brainchild of the finance minister Charlie McCreevy. The fund's value at end September 2006 was €17.6bn.

FEBRUARY: Romania introduces private pensions after the government gives the go-ahead to universal pension funds in December 2000. In early 2007 Romania also introduces second-pillar pensions legislation.

MARCH: Worldwide growth in defined contribution pension plans is slower than predicted, causing fears that the slow growth trend would continue in key European countries.

MARCH: Former Gartmore chairman Paul Myners publishes his influential report on UK institutional investments, calling for greater professionalisation of pension fund trustees.

MAY: IPE launches its IPE pensions awards event, with the aim of setting an industry benchmark for excellence in scheme management.

JUNE: The German upper house approves the government's landmark pension reforms, paving the way for reform of the country's overburdened social security system.

SEPTEMBER: The Dutch parliament ratifies European legislation on pension transfer rights in the event of company mergers and acquisitions.

NOVEMBER: The Brussels-based €552m VKG-CPM Belgian pension fund for doctors, dentists and pharmacists, establishes a new supplementary healthcare sector pension fund, ‘Amonis', with a potential active membership of 250,000 employees.

DECEMBER: Europe's largest telecoms group, Deutsche Telekom, strikes an agreement with giant trade union Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft, converting its pension arrangements in line with the Riester pension reform.

2002
JANUARY:
Around 70,000 Swiss postal workers get the green light to start their own pension foundation for the post office, transferring from the federal pension fund, into the new SFR10bn (€6.5bn) fund.

FEBRUARY: One million Croatians begin making contributions into the new mandatory supplementary pensions regime.

MARCH: The Spanish presidency of the EU tries to include sweeping restrictions on fund investments in the proposed pensions directive, against the backing the European Parliament gave to the prudent-man principle. In addition to quantitative restrictions, Spain wants to limit use of derivatives.

APRIL: Swedish insurer Skandia is challenged in the European Court of Justice over Swedish laws that stipulate employer contributions to insurance pension funds are only tax exempt if made to locally-domiciled insurance companies.

MAY: For the UK, 2001 was a year of negative returns (-9.7%) for managed pension funds with £352bn in assets for over 1,600 schemes. Dutch funds lost an average of 2.8%, but Swiss funds remained in positive territory.

JULY/AUGUST: EU's finance ministers accept a compromise position on the directive, following a compromise by the Spanish presidency.

SEPTEMBER: Switzerland's federal government announces a lowering of the minimum guaranteed interest rate for occupational pension schemes from 4% to 3%.

NOVEMBER: The European Court of Justice delivers its judgement in favour of Rolf Dieter Danner, confirming that Finnish pensions tax legislation contravene EU provisions.

DECEMBER: In the UK, Danish shipping group Maersk closes its UK DB scheme, highlighting the shortcomings in the way UK regulations operated.

2003
JANUARY:
The total pension assets in Europe reach €4trn, Mercer's annual survey of European Pension Fund Managers shows.

FEBRUARY: The take-up of private Riester pensions one year after their introduction is below expectations. Only three million Germans signed up for the complementary pension arrangement named after labour minister Walter Riester.

MARCH: For the first time, the European Commission announces legal action against member states over discriminatory pension taxation. Among those singled out are Denmark, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal.

APRIL: The Pension Fund Directive passes the European Parliament. The compromise paper gets 156 votes in favour, 383 against and seven abstentions and subsequently clears the Council hurdle.

MAY: The €13bn FRR (Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites), which was set up in 2001 but only started operating in 2003 announces its asset allocation: 55% equities and 45% fixed income.

JUNE: Pension reform suggestions made by the Austrian government are amended following protests.

JULY/AUGUST: ECJ Ruling in the Skandia case is hailed as a step towards open market. The court rejects the position of the Swedish government which did not allow tax deductions for premiums sold by non-Swedish life assurances.

SEPTEMBER: France's constitutional council gives the new pensions bill the all-clear, ending lengthy debates on the controversial issue of harmonising public and private sector pensions.

OCTOBER: Consultant Mercer buys PricewaterhouseCoopers' Deutsche Revision, the German actuarial activities of PwC.

DECEMBER: CEIOPS (Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pensions) is set up.

2004
JANUARY:
The European Federation of Retirement Provision (EFRP) presents its cross-border occupational pension proposal, EIORP 2005, to EU internal markets commissioner Frits Bolkestein. It says its model for a pan-European pension fund could shave 45 bps off costs, saving the industry up to €10bn a year.

MARCH: A new member of the IPE family is born with the launch of IPE Real Estate, a bi-monthly magazine on real estate as an asset class.

MAY: France's Pensions Reserve Fund (FRR) awards its first mandates, with €10bn divided into four ‘lots'.

JUNE: Elsa Fornero, director of Italy's Centre for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies (CeRP), says the Berlusconi government's pension plans are "only half a reform".

JULY: Stockholm Economics School professor Karl-Olof Hammarkvist is appointed to examine Sweden's premium pension system after it was found that 90% of the savers were in deficit.

SEPTEMBER: Charlie McCreevy, who as Irish finance minister had created the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF), is appointed EU internal market and services commissioner with oversight of pensions.

OCTOBER: OECD secretary general Donald Johnston warns that the funding shortfall in pension schemes worldwide could be as large as $1trn (€800m), adding it was not certain that policymakers had taken the full measure of the "time bomb".

NOVEMBER: A confidential Dutch government report suggests asking ABP and PGGM to split their pension fund and executive operations into separate organisations.

DECEMBER: The EIB announces it would issue a 25-year £540m (€775m) bond as part of a BNP Paribas-designed product to protect UK pension funds against longevity risk.

2005
JANUARY:
IBM is reconsidering the pooling of its European pension assets because of uncertainty over tax harmonisation.

FEBRUARY:
Hewitt Associates strengthens its foothold in the German market through a takeover of local actuarial and benefits consultancy Bode Grabner Beye.

MARCH: Philips, which has pensions obligations in 40-plus countries, unveils a global risk-reward model to monitor its pension funds' risk exposure.

APRIL: The UK government's introduction of 50-year bonds, the first British issuance of such ultra-long bonds in a generation, is expected to help pension schemes better match liabilities.

MAY: ABP completely restructures the management of its €170bn AUM, switching to being predominantly in-house and focusing on an active strategy designed to produce alpha.

JUNE: The resignation of Czech premier Stanislav Gross is seen as a blow to attempts to introduce second pillar pensions.

JULY/AUGUST: Brussels-based investment fund association EFAMA proposes a European personal pensions account to ease cross-border pension rights portability.

SEPTEMBER: The EU Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) Directive comes into force.

OCTOBER: UK pensions commission chairman Adair Turner previews his report, telling the unions that additional pension saving should be the response to Britain's demographic challenge.

NOVEMBER: The EU's pensions portability proposal is unveiled, giving employees the right to take accrued pension benefits with them when changing jobs.

DECEMBER: Swedish financial supervisor FI amends its traffic-light model following consultation with the pensions industry.

2006
JANUARY:
The European Federation for Retirement Provision (EFRP) and PricewaterhouseCoopers lodges complaints with the EC against 18 EU member states for infringing the free movement of capital.

FEBRUARY: The Swiss government gives final approval to several major first-pillar reforms, including harmonising the legal retirement age for female and male workers at 65.

MARCH: Four of France's biggest asset managers - AXA France, BNP Paribas, HSBC France and Société Générale - set up a joint venture to administer around four million employee defined contribution accounts.

MAY: The Belgian government announces it would set up a legal framework to make the country a domicile for pan-European pension funds, for which it finally legislated in September 2006.

JULY: The European Federation for Retirement Provision (EFRP), representing occupational pension plans in 17 EU and four non-EU countries, celebrates its 25th anniversary.

SEPTEMBER: The National Association of Pension Funds announces that Joanne Segars is to take over from Christine Farnish as chief executive. Farnish had previously announced she was leaving to become director of public policy at Barclays.

SEPTEMBER: The alleged insider trading at Swiss bank Swissfirst is claimed to involve at least seven Pensionskassen and shakes up the Swiss pension industry.

OCTOBER: PensPlan, the pension services provider of the semi-autonomous Trentino Alto Adige region in northern Italy, announces plans for a cross-border fund in Germany under the pension directive. It will offer its new open pension fund PensPlan Profi in Germany by the middle
of 2007.

2007
JANUARY:
Siemens' Swiss arm files criminal charges against Roland Rümmeli, former head of investments at the company's Pensionskasse, over the fund's relationship with Swissfirst.

MARCH: The Dutch TV programme Zembla startles the pensions world with a claim that funds have invested almost €230m in companies producing cluster bombs.

MARCH: The Swedish AP funds launch a joint ethical council to review the socially responsible investment approaches taken by the buffer funds, AP1-AP4.

APRIL: Ireland's social affairs minister says an imminent Green Paper on pensions will incorporate suggestions for automatic enrolment.

MAY: Norway's Pension Fund Global announces plans to screen its equity holdings for companies with connections to weapons manufacturing, including cluster bombs.

JUNE: UK pension schemes see their deficit return to zero on back of cash injections, rising stock markets and interest rates and a number of sale-and-leaseback deals, Deloitte says.

JULY/AUGUST: EU member states will disclose their pension liabilities, according to the Commission's 2007 public finances report.

SEPTEMBER: Deutsche Bank's DWS bucks the market trend and keeps its €2.1bn asset-backed securities (ABS) vehicle open, despite outflows of €900m.

OCTOBER: The Pensions-Sicherungs-Verein, Germany's pension protection fund, is sued by several employer-members.

NOVEMBER: The European Court of Justice rejects a claim brought against an employer that the default retirement age of 65 is age discrimination.

DECEMBER: The Norwegian Pension Fund Global blacklists Vedanta Resources, removing it from its investment universe.

2008
JANUARY:
The European Commission launches a review of value-added tax (VAT) to clarify if European pension funds should be exempt.

FEBRUARY: Danish pension funds await a report by the country's Infrastructure Commission.

MARCH: A study by Germany's federal ministry of economics finds that the reluctance of large domestic investors to go into private equity discourages foreign institutional investors.

APRIL: Paul Myners, chairman of the UK's Personal Accounts Delivery Authority, defends the decision to adopt passive management for the country's new state-run personal accounts regime.

MAY: Incoming APG COO Adri van der Wurff predicts that the new pension fund manager will be "bad news" for foreign asset managers.

JUNE: Watson Wyatt suggests pension funds should reduce external investment management costs by 10 basis points and channel these savings into expanded internal resources.

JULY/AUGUST: Conditional indexation is floated as a possible risk-sharing method in UK occupational pension schemes, with the department for work and pensions publishing a consultation document looking at all possible options. A further option put out to consultation is Collective DC vehicles.

SEPTEMBER: Royal Bank of Scotland teams up with German insurer Ergo to offer a buyout service for liabilities greater than €500m.

OCTOBER: In the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers collapse, the BT pension fund announces it has ceased its stock-lending programme. It is joined by other funds, including PGGM.

NOVEMBER: Icelandic pension funds refuse to transfer their foreign security holdings back into the domestic market.

DECEMBER: A number of Dutch funds are discussing liquidity concerns with De Nederlandsche Bank.

 

2009
JANUARY:
Philips Electronics UK pension fund trustees file a lawsuit against consultancy Hewitt Associates and one of its former top executives.

FEBRUARY: AP1, the first Swedish national pension Fund, makes 20 people redundant and changes its asset management model to focus on strategic asset allocation.

MARCH: A series of reviews is announced in the Netherlands, designed to see whether pension funds could be better run.

APRIL: Aon UK confirms it is reducing the standard rate of employer contributions to its money purchase pension scheme, but will match additional employee contributions up to set levels.

MAY: Babcock International announces it has, in principle, secured a deal to hedge some of its pensions longevity risk through the market's first longevity swap.

JUNE: Royal Mail warns it might have to close its £20bn (€22.98bn) DB scheme if the government's plans for a part privatisation of the company fails.

JULY/AUGUST: The pension fund for the Council of European Nuclear Research (CERN) workers finalises changes to its trustee management and staffing arrangements.

SEPTEMBER: The Latvian government reveals new pension reforms being planned to come into effect from January 2011 in an attempt to further reduce the budget deficit.

OCTOBER: The Albanian branch of the Raiffeisen group buys the American Institute of Supplementary Private Pensions of Albania, the biggest pension provider in the market and renames it Raiffeisen Pensions.

NOVEMBER: The Polish finance and labour ministries announce that the share of pension contributions going to mandatory second pillar funds will decrease from 7.3% to 3%.

DECEMBER: The local regulator in Romania decrees that the two largest funds in the Romanian second pillar will not be handed new clients
from the pensions default pool over the next two years.

2010
JANUARY:
Lawrence Churchill, the chair of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), is named as the chair designate of the NEST Corporation, the trustee board for the new national pension scheme to be rolled out from 2011.

FEBRUARY: Germany's BVK announces it will fine-tune its 12 portfolios as part of changes to its strategic asset allocation, and award more mandates to external managers to run its fixed-income and domestic real estate assets.

MARCH: Almost 73% of voters in a Swiss referendum reject a proposal to cut the conversion rate on second pillar pensions from 7% for men and 6.95% for women to 6.4% by 2016.

APRIL: Kraft, the new owner of chocolate manufacturer Cadbury, attempts to woo staff away from the final salary pension fund and into a career average scheme by warning those who do not move could face a three-year pay freeze.

MAY: The Greek government approves a law to cut pensions to prevent the retirement system from collapsing.

JUNE: Daniel Gloor, head of asset management of the Pensionskasse for civil servants in Zürich is arrested for alleged misconduct and corruption.

JULY/AUGUST: The European Court of Justice rules that large German local authorities must tender occupational pension services, and takes Germany to court.

SEPTEMBER: A group of 30 pension funds threaten to sue Henderson Group if it fails to pay substantial compensation for losses incurred by an infrastructure fund, which they claim was promoted as a low-risk investment.

OCTOBER: The UK government confirms it will reduce the Royal Mail Pension Plan to around one-tenth of its current size, in an effort to tackle the scheme's €10bn deficit.

DECEMBER: Hungary's parliament passes the Law on the Free Choice of Pension Funds that forces members of the country's second-pillar mandatory funds to hand their savings to the state.

2011
JANUARY:
Poland's second-pillar system is set for a radical overhaul in 2011 in a compromise that keeps the contribution level, but cuts the amount managed privately.

FEBRUARY: Dutch social affairs minister, Henk Kamp, announces supervision of local pension funds will be simplified following lobbying from the country's regulators.

MARCH: The Dutch TV programme Zembla causes controversy in the pension fund world for a second time after it accuses pension funds in the Netherlands of missing out on €145bn in unrealised returns over two decades.

APRIL: The €150bn asset manager Robeco announces it is planning to launch a cross-border pension vehicle.

MAY: The European Commission's Call for Advice (CfA) on the revision of the IORP directive raises concerns.

JUNE: The Swiss government sets up the new federal pensions supervisory body - the Oberaufsichtskommission (OAK) - and names Pierre Triponez its first president.

JULY/AUGUST: There is relief in the Netherlands as the FNV federation of trade unions finally endorses the country's Pensions Agreement.

SEPTEMBER: Denmark's largest pension fund ATP unveils its UK pension offering, aiming to take advantage of auto-enrolment with its multi-employer trust NOW Pensions.

OCTOBER: The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) in the UK warns of the "nasty side-effects" that quantitative easing (QE2) announced by the Bank of England (BoE) could have for UK pension funds.

NOVEMBER: A draft version of the White Paper on Pensions - for which the final version is expected to be released in 2012 only - is leaked.

DECEMBER: French pension provider UMR Corem announces plans for a defined contribution (DC) cross-border vehicle, operating under Belgian law. The OFP fund is expected to be in operation from 1 July 2012.

 


 

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