NETHERLANDS – NIB Capital, the bank owned by the two largest Dutch pension funds ABP and PGGM, said assets under management at its investment management unit rose 70% in 2004.

“Total assets under management increased by 70% to €4.9bn,” NIB said in its 2004 earnings report. At the end of 2003, the unit had €2.9bn under management.

The number of employees at the division – which includes the Harcourt fund hedge funds business - has risen 57% to 55. Pre-tax operating profit at the division doubled to €5m. Switzerland-based Harcourt saw its assets under management rise 70% to €1.8bn.

Overall, NIB said its net profit rise 136% to €175m.

“The year 2004 was extraordinarily successful for NIB Capital, with results up in all business lines,” said managing board chairman Michael Enthoven. “Given the market conditions we are particularly proud of the strong growth in operating income.”

NIB reiterated that it was disappointed by Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade its rating on the company to A+/A-1 over queries about NIB’s strategic importance to ABP and PGGM.

It said: “We are disappointed about this, as no change in the shareholding structure has taken place.”