Belgium’s finance minister, Johan van Overtveldt, has been in talks with management of multinationals in New York in order to attract pension funds of multinational companies.
Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reported that the minister had discussed a potential move with MasterCard, and said that Van Overtveldt wanted to position Brussels as a financial centre.
According to the paper, MasterCard is the only known company the minister has visited.
It noted that firms were loath to see their name publicly mentioned due of the sensivity of the subject – and earlier resistance to cross-border moves by BP and ExxonMobil.
In Van Overtveldt’s opinion, Belgium not only could offer a beneficial tax framework, but also the required expertise for pensions management, the paper noted.
“As we appear to be attractive, I want to step up efforts and convey the message to other companies with pension funds all over Europe,” the newspaper quoted the minister as saying.
Van Overtveldt’s comments come less than a year after Belgium’s penisons minister Daniel Bacquelaine told the IPE Conference & Awards in Barcelona his government planned to reduce obstacles facing cross-border IORPs in order to attract a greater number of transfers.
Several political parties in the Netherlands have voiced their concern about Dutch pensions assets moving to Belgium.
Helma Lodders, MP for Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte’s VVD, said the Netherlands was not sufficiently attractive for foreign pension funds to wish to relocate.
The opposition Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Socialist (SP) parties said that they opposed pensions funds leaving the Netherlands.
Pieter Omtzigt, MP for the CDA said: “Our national employment benefits agency UWV doesn’t move to Brussels in order to carry out its tasks from there either.”
Responding to the Belgian efforts to attract pension funds, Omtzigt said he had serious objections in regard to the IORP Directive.
IPE has contacted both MasterCard and Belgium’s finance ministry for additional comment.