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Dutch minister: 'Pensions funds should ramp up local investment'

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Henk Kamp, the outgoing Dutch minister of Economic Affairs, has again urged pension funds to significantly increase their local investments.

“The Dutch economy is stable, successful and is currently growing at a rate of 3.3% on an annual basis,” he argued during a congress of the NLII – the organisation tasked with boosting local investment – in Amsterdam.

Currently, local investments of Dutch pension funds comprise 12.4% of their combined assets, a recent NLII survey revealed.

In the opinion of Kamp, this percentage “could go a long way” towards the 40% insurers have invested in the Dutch economy.

“Local investment does not only benefit participants and pensioners, but also their children and grandchildren,” the minister said.

Citing the energy transition as the most important investment option, he said that the implementation of Dutch climate goals would lead to annual investments of €12bn in, for example, thermal grids and facilities to harvest offshore wind power.

He also described sewer renovation, care for the elderly as well as non-regulated rental property in large cities, as “very profitable investments”.

In his opinion, investing in the US or the UK is not the best option. “Look how the US is currently managed. And the UK is soon to leave the EU,” he said.

Kamp pointed at Invest NL, the government initiative which is to issue risk-bearing capital for “socially desirable” projects that have been too risky for private investors up to now.

Invest NL – scheduled to become operational as of 2019 – will receive starting capital of €2.5bn, and will independently develop projects.

During the event, Prince Constantijn – brother of King Willem-Alexander – advocated increased investment in startups, an investment category into which only a few pension funds have so far dared to invest.

As the envoy for StartupDelta, the Dutch programme for startups, the prince recommended Dutch pension funds take an early stake “in order to be at the table when the companies start making decent profits”.

He said that currently successful Dutch startups were usually fully financed by large investors from countries such as the US and Singapore, and urged pension funds to “leave their comfort zone and start through, for example, establishing a venture capital fund”.

Prince Constantijn received the explicit support of Leen Meijaard, executive chairman of BlackRock Benelux, who confirmed that current investments in Dutch startups are “small and fragmented”.

Earlier during the congress, approximately 80% of the representatives of pension funds and insurers had said they agreed that institutional investors should increase their stake in startups.

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