AUSTRIA - Differences in labour and social laws across Europe are slowing down Austrian Pensionskasse ÖPAG's plans to go cross-border, IPE has learnt.

ÖPAG, the second-largest Austrian multi-employer pension funds by assets (€2.9bn) announced last year it was looking to acquire clients in Germany and Slovenia (See earlier IPE article: ÖPAG reveals cross-border destinations)

However, "having checked the European legislation we have found that there are only very few synergies" deriving from the IORP directive, a spokesman for the Pensionskasse revealed.

"It is about the applicability of foreign labour and social laws," explained board member Rudolf Böhm.

"As long as these laws are very different and not harmonised within the EU, occupational pension products have hugely varying requirements in the various members states which makes it very complex to administer foreign contracts."

It would both be expensive and logistically complicated for ÖPAG to offer a foreign pension solution, according to the firm, and it is for these reasons the Pensionskasse's plan for cross-border activities by the Pensionskasse were currently on hold, added the spokesman.

Böhm said ÖPAG was in "final talks with a company in Germany" but no final decision has yet been made in light of the legal obstacles.

The ÖPAG also noted it will continue "to observe the relevant markets closely".