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Chemie Pensionsfonds set to grow to €100m

GERMANY - Chemie Pensionsfonds, the pension fund targeted at employees in the chemical sector, will have around €100m assets by the end of 2006 but has no immediate plans to outsource investment, a member of its investment committee has told IPE.

"We're now at around €80m but I expect that by the end of the year, we'll hit the €100m mark," said Gottlieb Förster, a senior negotiator from the chemical union IG BCE who sits on the fund's investment committee.

Chemie, one of the first German Pensionsfonds vehicles to be launched in 2002, invests its assets in two sub-funds as part of a life-cycle model. The more equity-heavy fund is for younger employees while the fixed income-heavy fund is for older employees.

According to Förster, the fund for younger employees invests 30% in global and European equities each, with the remaining 40% allocated to European bonds. The fund for older employees invests 80% in European bonds and 20% in global equities.

"We are not currently using any external managers but doing all of the investing ourselves. However, once we arrive at more significant volumes, we may consider using them and also start thinking about a global custodian," Förster told IPE on the sidelines of the autumn conference for German pensions association aba.

Buoyed by positive equity markets, Chemie posted a 16.5% return on its assets for 2005. At the end of 2005, it had 18,000 contributing members from 450 chemical firms, though Förster said that number was now 500. "This would put its market potential in terms of insured at more than 200,000," he added.

Chemie has a two-member board including Heike Pohl, who took over as chief executive last June from Martin Großmann and Norman Gehrke, who is in charge of portfolio management.

The scheme, along with HVB Pensionsfonds, a multi-employer scheme, are both owned by HVB, a Munich-based bank. HVB, in turn, is in the hands of Italian banking giant UniCredit.

Prior to his departure, Großmann had told IPE that HVB's two Pensionsfonds would have €500m in assets by 2010, particularly because the vehicles' competitiveness had been improved by the government.

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