EUROPE – Jan Straatman, chief investment officer for capital markets at ABP Investments, is to leave to take up a new CIO position at Pearl Group – entrepreneur Hugh Osmond’s life assurance fund investment vehicle.

Straatman was CIO of equity and fixed income at ABP, the Dutch civil service pension fund, managing approximately £89bn (€130bn).

He starts at the group – acquired by Sun Capital Partners and TDR Capital in April 2005 - on 1 March 2006.

Straatman – based at ABP’s Schipol office – has headed a team of roughly 100 fixed income and equity professionals in Amsterdam and New York for the past four years.

According to an ABP spokesperson, Straatman announced his resignation last Friday, so no successor has yet been named.

“With an eye on continuity, in close consultation with the board and Jan Straatman, Roderick Munsters CIO of ABP will take over Jan's board responsibilities on an interim basis.”

The spokesperson added that Arnold Shapiro, the current co-chief investment officer of fixed income, would become interim director of fixed income, and equities fund manager Edwina Neal would be interim director of equities.

“As the situation is this fresh, it is clear that we cannot run ahead of developments,” said the spokesperson.

ABP today issued IPE with a general comment about Straatman’s departure: “We regret the departure of Jan Straatman. Jan is an excellent manager and pleasant colleague.

“We understand that he will become responsible for setting up a complete asset management organisation, which he will lead as CIO. It is typically one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities he could not refuse.”

Straatman is excited about his new position.

“I am looking forward to the challenge of applying what I have learned to an important UK industry. Traditional investment models are usually not set up to capture true long-term inefficiencies, nor do they properly reflect the nature of the liabilities.

“I am excited by Pearl Group’s vision for the life insurance, savings and pensions sector and believe I can help turn it into reality.”

Osmond stated in a press release: “Our policyholder proposition is that there is no better way to add value to long-term savings policies than by maximising risk-adjusted returns.

“Jan Straatman has the expertise and the track record to lead this quest.”

A statement released today stipulated that Jan’s knowledge of developing leading investment technology and processes will now be applied to the UK life insurance sector.

Media reports today suggested that the appointment was linked to Pearl’s acquisition strategies in the UK pension buy-out market, involving life assurance funds that have closed to new business.

The press statement added that: “In order to execute its asset, liability and risk management strategy, Pearl Group is intent on hiring the best available people from across the financial services industry.

“After a three-month worldwide search process, the Group believes that Jan Straatman is the outstanding choice to lead and implement its strategy in these areas.

Osmond was among the entrepreneurs named by the Financial Times in October as competing to buy out the assets and liabilities of mature pension schemes in a market reportedly controlled by life insurance giants Prudential and Legal & General.

This followed a statement by the UK Pensions Regulator that more competition in the UK pension buy-out market was inevitable.

Speaking last week on the IPE’s online e-Symposium, Straatman queried whether the pension industry really always works on behalf of the asset owner – the pensioner.

His talk attempted to explore some of the “myths of the investment industry”. He called it “extremely structured, extremely rigid” – with small and narrow clusters of activity.