AUSTRIA - Fair-Finance, the 10 Austrian severance pay fund, today announced it has a licence to trade after a two-year wait.

Its founder, Markus Zeilinger, who previously worked at Bonus Pensionskasse, had announced the creation of a new severance pay fund in January 2008. (See earlier IPE story: New player enters Austrian MVK market)

However, in the wake of the financial crisis, the Austrian supervisory bodies FMA and National Bank became more thorough in checking the creation of new financial institutions, and this in turn held up licensing procedures.

The remits of the two supervisory bodies also changed mid-way through the process and Zeilinger claimed "not everybody was happy to see Fair-Finance enter the market, which might have slowed down proceedings as well".

That said, he remains optimistic and believes the two-year delay did have some positive impact, in part because the organisation will now trade on the tail of the recent market crisis.

As announced in 2008, the Fair-Finance Vorsorgekasse will enter the market with a guaranteed interest rate on contributions, on top of the mandatory capital guarantee which all severance pay funds have to grant.

The fund will also carry a 100% responsible investment policy and members will get a say in the investments.

Given the unique features the company believes it is offering, Zeilinger hopes to be able to persuade some companies to change their Vorsorgekasse.

Fair-Finance has also signed two major players in relation to its socially-responsible investments: the German GLS Bank and insurance firm Oeco Capital Leben, both of which carry ESG criteria as part of their business model.

Both companies each hold a 30% share in Fair-Finance and their chairmen will be part of the company's supervisory board.

Zeilinger also still hopes to be able to broaden the criteria of Fair-Finance products to other products such as consultancy, life insurance, and private equity in the near future. (See earlier IPE story: Fair-Finance BVK expands into funds)

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