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Anger over Cordares chairman's severance

NETHERLANDS - Delegates of the Dutch pensions sector have boycotted the departure reception of Joep Schouten, chairman of the €26.5bn pensions provider and asset manager Cordares, because of his severance package.

The supervisory board of Cordares - pensions provider for the building industry - had requested Schouten to ‘considerably limit' the financial arrangements, which were agreed in 1994, at the start of Schouten's chairmanship.

A contract entitled Schouten, 59, to keep on receiving his salary until his official retirement age of 65, as well as early retirement benefits from the Cordares' pension fund. Cordares declined to provide further details of the scheme.

Dick van Haaster, chairman of the builders' branch of union FNV, which is stakeholder in Cordares, described the situation on the union's website as "exorbitant, indecent and inexplicable to my members".

According to Van Haaster, Schouten refused to honour his personal plea to forsake on the early retirement payment.

"We are going to try to prevent these unacceptable schemes in the future," he said.

"Although the scheme is not illegal, considering the average salary of our members who had to contribute, it is immoral to us and we are very angry," a union spokeswoman added.

Van Haaster's decision to boycott Schouten's farewell reception was matched by representatives of fellow unions, such as CNV.

"We just don't agree with a redundancy package despite a voluntary departure," CNV's Maarten Post explained.

Major Dutch pension funds such the ABP €215bn civil service scheme and the PGGM €86bn healthcare plan also decided they would not send delegates to the event.

"Our executive board did not attend because we do not want to be part of the issue," explained PGGM spokeswoman Ellen Habermehl.

In a statement, Cordares' board and supervisory board expressed their regret about Schouten's decision. However, the severance package will be paid at the expense of Cordares, instead of the participating pension funds of the building industry, they stressed.

Schouten was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

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