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Victoria-Volksbanken group to offload pension, provident funds

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Austria’s Victoria-Volksbanken Pensionskasse (VV-PK) and the Victoria-Volksbanken Vorsorgekasse (VV-VK) – the provident fund managing mandatory employer contributions towards severance pay – have been put on the market. 

In a confidential sales prospectus seen by IPE, dated March 2015 and drawn-up in English, both entities are offered either as a package or separately, with no price tag.

As of the end of 2014, equity for the pension fund was estimated at €16.3m, while equity in the provident fund came to approximately €5.7m.

Sources familiar with the market expect the sales price to be at leat €30m.

Initial non-binding offers are expected by the end of March and are to be processed by KPMG, appointed to “exclusively advise in the intended transaction” – dubbed Project Eagle – as stated in the sales prospectus.

Victoria-Volksbanken declined to comment on the matter for the time being.

The pension and provident funds are co-owned by the Volksbanken banking group, as well as a subsidiary of German insurer Ergo.

According to the sales prospectus, while only Volksbanken is to offer its shares initially, “all the other shareholders are potentially willing to sell”.

This means an interested party could buy a 100% stake in either or both entities.

As per year-end 2014, the pension fund had close to €660m in assets under management (AUM) and reported an annual return of 5.9%. By comparison, the market average was close to 8%.

At the provident fund, AUM stood at €224m, while returns came in at 3.6%, against a market average of approximately 4%.

Volksbanken was the only large banking group in Austria to fail the stress test and is now winding itself down. 

One potential buyer could be Fair-finance.

Markus Zeilinger, founder and chairman of the board at Austria’s youngest Vorsorgekasse, recently expressed an interest in buying a Pensionskasse “if one came onto the market”.

He said such a purchase might be Fair-finance’s “last chance” to enter the country’s Pensionskassen market, as building one from scratch “does not make sense in the current environment”.

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