EUROPEAN SPECIAL – Belgacom, the €3.5bn pension fund for the Belgian telecommunications group and the UK’s Diageo, the €5.2bn scheme of the global drinks firm, were heralded as the first ever European winners for Fund Structure and Administration at the inaugural IPE-Awards ceremony for pension fund excellence held in Brussels last night (November 27).

The two schemes beat off opposition from a stellar field of European pension funds to be named by a prestigious panel of judges as the two leading edge operators in structure and administration on the continent.

The glittering ceremony at Le Plaza Hotel was attended by more than 200 of Europe’s top pensions professionals.

The funds were singled out for their proactive approach to pensions provision.
Both were praised by the judges for their transparent approach to benefits and clear communication channels to their members.

In its entry Belgacom pointed to its philosophy of seeing the pension fund as a “profit centre and not a cost centre”.
Similarly, the judges were impressed by Diageo’s commitment to pensions as a “very important” part of the overall remuneration package for its employees.

The Brussels-based Belgacom plan has around 15,000 active members and more than 10,000 retirees.
Edinburgh-based Diageo provides pensions for some 73,000 members.

The judges for the European awards were some of the continent’s most respected pensions professionals, including Koen de Ryck of Brussels-based Pragma Consulting, Marcello Messori of Mefop in Italy and Vincent Vandier of French pensions association, AFPEN.