NETHERLANDS - Elco Brinkman, the exiting chairman of the Dutch teachers and civil servants pension fund ABP, will continue his mediation in the Optas case and may deliver a conclusion within the next four weeks.

According to the Dutch social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner, Brinkman's current probe into the dispute shows "there is enough common ground to reach an amicable settlement between Stichting Belangenbehartiging Pensioengerechtigden van de Vervoer- en Havenbedrijven (BPVH), Stichting Optas and Aegon Nederland N.V."

The ministry of social affairs said in a statement Brinkman is continuing his involvement as mediator between the disputing parties.

Pieter Omtzigt, MP for the ruling Dutch CDA party, has heralded the move as positive, and thinks Brinkman could broker a deal within the next four weeks.

Brinkman was appointed in June when BPVH, the pension fund for harbour workers, and Aegon reached an impasse in its dispute over the ownership of the €1.3bn proceeds of the sale of insurer Optas Group to Aegon.

It was previously discovered proceeds of the sale of the company and associated pension fund were being used as an art subsidy rather than for pension benefits.

The assets are now in the hands of the Optas Foundation, which claims the social partners of BPVH never took up a seat on the board of the new company, nor became shareholders, when the pension fund was transformed into insurer Optas Pensioenen 10 years ago.

Donner announced in March the transition of a pension fund foundation into another entity would become subject to approval of the pensions regulator DNB and new rules will be written to change the Pensions Act.

Brinkman, who is also chairman of the Dutch organisation for construction and infrastructure companies Bouwend Nederland, recently announced he would step down as chairman of the fund within a year, following his appointment as chairman of the supervisory board at the recently-launched investment manager APG - a wholly-owned division of ABP created to manage the assets and administration of the ABP pension fund.

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