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BFr8bn Flanders tender reaches second phase

BELGIUM – The selection process to appoint asset managers for the BFr8bn (€2bn) Flanders healthcare fund has entered its second phase, though no final announcement is expected before next spring, says Edwin De Boeck, managing director of KBC Asset Management in Brussels.

De Boeck says that the process has been held up as a result of both the Flemish and federal governments devoting more of their time to European issues whilst Belgium held the rotating 6 month EU presidency. “Some domestic issues got put on the back burner, but now the six months have elapsed we should see the authorities in Belgium begin to concentrate on things like domestic pensions again,” he comments.

De Boeck says that there have been no changes to the proposed investment strategy of 70% fixed income and 30% bonds and that ethical investment strategies presented by the asset management candidates would continue to count in their favour.

However, he does point out that the time delay does, in principle, affect the fund’s initial asset level.
“Technically, we should start talking of a fund of twelve billion Belgian francs, not eight, as the Flemish government is to inject four billion into it each year and the expected time frame to get the fund up and running now takes us into next year.”

Though De Boeck doesn’t know the identity of the other asset managers vying for the honour to manage the fund’s assets, he does confirm KBC’s qualification for the second round. “ We don’t know who the other players are, but we are still in the running. Moreover, we still expect to see four or five final choices, including one or two foreign companies,” he comments.

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