EUROPE - AEGON Global Pensions is planning to extend its pooled asset management platform to pension fund assets in Switzerland, Germany, Ireland and Denmark.

The offering is currently available for assets in France, the Netherlands and the UK.

The company said the extended platform would be ready for launch this December, with a typical implementation time of three months once an agreement has been made with each individual client.

The asset-pooling platform allows pension funds in the three countries it currently covers to combine the management of assets within a tax-transparent, cost-effective structure.

The platform is a Netherlands-domiciled FGR operating under Dutch regulation.

However, it uses different structures within each country depending on the vehicles most commonly used for pension fund asset management - for instance, in France, it uses insurance-backed funds.

The platform includes equities and fixed income securities selected on a best-of-breed basis - there are plans to introduce other asset classes over time.

Frans van der Horst, director at AEGON Global Pensions, said asset pooling was a step pension funds could take toward the later inclusion of liabilities within their asset management portfolios and the eventual conversion to an IORP (institution for occupational retirement provision).

"Many pension funds are interested in taking the first steps toward centralisation - toward setting up a pan-European pension fund - but are reluctant to choose a domicile for the fund because so much is in flux," he said.

"For instance, there is competition between countries such as Ireland, Luxembourg and Belgium to become the domicile of choice.

"But with asset pooling, you don't have to make the decision yet on where you wish to domicile your pan-European pension fund.

"The IORP structure is potentially very interesting, but there are a number of issues that need to be addressed to make it workable."

Van der Horst said the product was likely to be implemented in phases, with multinational companies choosing to merge the assets from their smaller pension funds first, as their larger pension funds would already enjoy some economies of scale.