NETHERLANDS - ABP, Europe's second-largest pension fund by value, has stepped up its position in microfinance investing, and asked Swiss asset manager BlueOrchard to manage a further €50m.

The Geneva-based investment house has managed assets for ABP since 2005, when the €205bn pension fund first invested in BlueOrchard's debt fund, albeit the investment was made through Dexia Asset Management.

Under this latest allocation, ABP will invest $75m (€50m) in BlueOrchard's first private equity microfinance fund, according to Jan van Roekel, portfolio manager at ABP.

 "These investments are particularly fit for a pension fund as a risk diversifier," said van Roekel.

"They have so far proven to be relatively non-correlated with most other asset classes and it appeared natural to follow-up with an investment in private equity, a most needed form of financing in this industry", added Jan van Roekel.
BlueOrchard has so far raised $111m through this new Luxembourg SICAV, and the assets will in turn be used to buy small holdings on companies where officials they can make a difference by providing small developing companies with connections and guidance at board level.