NETHERLANDS - The €10.6bn asset manager and pensions provider Blue Sky Group is putting extra measures in place to deal with counterparty risks following the credit crunch.

"In order to decrease the potential liabilities between partners, we are introducing more control mechanisms, and we have hired an additional corporate legal expert as well," said Toine van der Stee, director of Blue Sky Group.

He also made it clear that the asset manager is also developing stricter criteria for the financial service providers it deals with.

"For example, we no longer take for granted the reported value of collateral in case of securities-lending, as we used to do in the past," he pointed out.

Despite the pressures experienced in the financial markets during the credit crisis, the 14 pension schemes managed by Blue Sky Group have so far survived relatively unscathed, according to Van der Stee.

"The combined asset value has decreased by no more than 15%, and no pension fund has been seriously hit by the loss of large positions, downgradings or the collapse of a major bank," he explained.

Blue Sky Group is also developing new instruments to increase schemes' board control.

"Whereas we used to inform boards on the position of their pension fund on a monthly basis, we are already reporting on the cover ratio as well as the causes of change to some schemes on a daily basis," said van der Stee.

The director added that Blue Sky Group is already anticipating there will be a growing demand for fiduciary management as a way to manage cover ratios of pension funds.

"We are already dealing with requests for a quote of a handful of potential new clients," claimed Van der Stee claimed.

Blue Sky's pension fund for its own 100-strong staff had to submit a recovery plan to pensions regulator De Nederlandsche Bank because of a reserve shortfall, the company said in its annual report.

However, Van der Stee said the present cover ratio has risen to 121% in the meantime, which is only 2% short of the required funding.

Blue Sky Group started off as the manager of the three pension funds of KLM 10 years ago but now offers asset management, pension administration and advice as well as board support to 14 schemes, including Alcatel-Lucent and BP Netherlands.

The combined number of participants is approximately 75,000.

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