NETHERLANDS – The pension deficit of Dutch financial services group ABN Amro has widened to €1.96bn at the end of 2004, from €1.32bn a year earlier.

Accumulated pension obligations for pension plans in the Netherlands and the UK exceeded plan assets by €1.05bn as at the end of 2004.

According to the bank’s new annual report, ABN Amro has provided for an additional obligation of €1.55bn – of which €1.23bn was charged to shareholders’ equity and €316m recognised as an intangible asset.

The bank has also cut the discount rate used to value its pension obligations to 4.7% from 5.5%. And the expected return on investments was also cut to seven percent from 7.2%.

For 2004, the target asset allocation to equities was 48%, with the actual allocation at 47.7%. Debt securities’ target was 50% (50.2% actual) while real estate’s target was one percent (0.2% actual). Other assets were targeted at one percent (1.9% actual).

It expected to pay €506m in pension contributions in 2005.

The bank is to launch a €6.3bn all-cash offer for Italy’s Banca Antonveneta, of which it already has a 12.7% stake.