EUROPE - De Eendragt Pensioen NV, the pension provider for the paper and packaging industry pension fund, was tonight named as the ‘best of the best' European pension funds at the IPE Awards 2008 while Philippe Neyt was honoured with an award for his Outstanding Contribution to the European pensions industry.

De Eendragt Pensioen NV recently changed its status to a life insurance company so it could conform to the new pension law and give the 85-year old De Eendragt Pensioenfond a long-term future, and manages the pension plans of 16 companies.

It was tonight also rewarded with three prizes as Best Netherlands Pension Fund in the country awards, along with Best Small Pension Fund in the silver category and the ultimate gold award as Best European Pension Fund 2008.

A spokesman for De Eendragt Pensioen NV noted this was the second year in a row a small pension fund had won the top accolade for its work in managing pension fund assets.

"I am very honoured to win this prize. This was made possible by a team which is just 15 people so we are very proud of this," he said.

At the same time, Mercer was named as the Consultant of the Year - a prize created this year and voted for by the readers of IPE, like Neyt's Outstanding Industry Contribution award.

Commenting on his award, Philippe Neyt, said: "Thank you very much, it is a great honour and thank you to all of you for voting. I was probably nominated since Belgium created through the government legislation favouring the cross-border pension. These cross-border pension funds and the framework acted as a catalyst to move other countries to do the same. And I am proud other countries have done so."

Neyt continued: "But the success is quite limited. In the long run, I am convinced cross-border pensions will be created. I am sure consultations will go through and plan sponsors and CEOs will look further at the integration of investment and liability pooling within one organisation, to enhance sophisticated risk management."

Among the other winners, ATP also walked away with three awards and Clwyd collected three awards, while Ilmarinen and PMT each won two.

A total of 37 awards were presented at a glittering event hosted by IPE at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Cataluyna, to recognise the excellent work European pension funds have been doing and in what has been a tough year for all entrants.

In the silver awards categories British Steel PF was named Best Corporate Pension Fund while Ireland's Construction Workers' Pension Scheme was named Best Industry-Wide Pension Fund and Danish giant ATP was announced as Best Public Pension Fund.

In the themed awards, the winners are:

Best Commodities Investment - Ilmarinen Best DB/DC Structuring/Strategies - ATP Best investment in Emerging Markets - Clwyd Best Equities Investment - APK Best Fixed Income Investment - Pensioenfonds Metaal en Techniek (PMT) Best Hedge Funds Investment - NAEV Best Innovation - WPV Best Liability Driven Investment - VR Pension Foundation Best Portfolio Construction - Pensioenfonds Metaal en Techniek (PMT) Best Risk Management - ATP Best Property Investment - Clwyd Best use of Specialist Investment Manager - Clwyd Best SRI/Corporate Governance - Environment Agency Active PF

The winners of the country awards are:

Best Pension Fund in Austria 2008 - Öpag Pensionskassen AG Best Pension Fund in Belgium 2008 - NATO DC Pension Scheme Best Pension Fund in CEE 2008 - Raiffeisen Mandatory PF (for Croatia)
Best Pension Fund in Denmark 2008 - ATP Best Pension Fund in Finland 2008 - Ilmarinen Best Pension Fund in France 2008 - ERAFP Best Pension Fund in Germany 2008 - Aerzteversorgung Westfalen-Lippe Best Pension Fund in Iceland 2008 - Gildi Best Pension Fund in Ireland 2008 - Construction Workers' Pension Scheme Best Pension Fund in Italy 2008 - Fondo Pensione Gruppo Unicredito Best Pension Fund in the Netherlands 2008 - De Eendragt Pensioen N.V. Best Pension Fund in Norway 2008 - Oslo Pensjonsforsikring Best Pension Fund in Portugal 2008 - BPI Segurança Open End PF Best Pension Fund in Spain 2008 - Pensions Caixa 30, FP Best Pension Fund in Sweden 2008 - Länsförsäkringar Liv Försäkrings AB Best Pension Fund in Switzerland 2008 - UBS Pension Fund Best Pension Fund in the UK 2008 - British Steel PF