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Croatian roundup: 'more professional' UMFO, highways monetisation

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Croatia’s Association of Pension Fund Management Companies and Pension Insurance Companies (UMFO) has re-launched on what it describes as a more professional footing, including permanent staffing.

The association, a member of PensionsEurope, has hired Dijana Markoja, formerly of Erste Bank in Zagreb, as director.

The current president is Dubravko Štimac, president of the management board of the PBZ Croatia Osiguranje Mandatory Pension Fund.

At a press briefing, Markoja cited market research that showed a relatively high (41.7%) level of dissatisfaction with the current pension system.

Attitudes towards the second pillar vary, with a significant 30.7% wanting the contribution rate (currently 5%) increased at the expense of the 15% first-pillar rate, while 17.3% want the reverse, and a further 6.8% would abolish the second pillar altogether.

Those with higher education, professional jobs and high incomes are more favourably disposed to the second pillar than the less-well educated, elderly and low waged.

Given that many workers do not consider retirement planning, the UMFO will shortly be launching a marketing awareness campaign.

Its case for the second pillar will be boosted by good results – an average nominal 11.36% in 2014, and an average real return of 3.75% since the start of the system in 2002.

In other news, Siniša Hajdaš Dončić, Croatia’s minister of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure, has confirmed, in an interview with news daily Jutarnji list, an alternative plan should the Constitutional Court allow a referendum opposing the monetisation of the debts of Hrvatske Autoceste (HAC), the national motorway authority, and Autocesta Rijeka-Zagreb (ARZ), the state-owned company that operates the Rijeka-Zagreb motorway to go ahead, and the referendum succeeds.

Under the ministry’s ‘Plan B’, the government would instead raise funds through an IPO of 51% of Croatian Motorways Maintenance and Tolling (HAC-ONC), the agency jointly owned by HAC and ARZ.

Croatia’s four mandatory pension funds, which are among the consortium participants bidding for the monetisation concession, are expected to participate, alongside employees and other citizens.

The minister said the IPO could raise €1.2bn, still well short of HAC and ARZ’s combined debts of €4.2bn.

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