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Dutch pension fund Equens to join consolidation vehicle

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The €700m Dutch pension fund Equens wants to join a general pension fund (APF) as of January because it does not see satisfactory options for continuing independently.

Rita van Ewijk, the scheme’s vice chair, said it expected to conclude a contract later this month.

The Pensioenfonds Equens implements the pension plans of payment service firms equensWorldline and Paysquare.

Although the pension fund’s current responsibility is existing pensions accrual, Van Ewijk said that employers also wanted to place future accrual with the consolidation vehicle.

She said she could not yet provide details about the envisaged consolidation partner as negotiations were still ongoing.

The vice chair explained that the decision to join an APF was triggered by increasing regulatory pressure and anticipated cost increases, with the scheme’s relatively small number of participants – 2,910 as at the end of 2018 – also a contributing factor.

In 2016, the Pensioenfonds Equens tried to set up a consolidation vehicle in co-operation  with the pension funds Van Lanschot, KAS Bank and GE Artesia Bank. However, when the latter withdrew, doubts arose abut the viability of the planned APF.

When it subsequently became clear that insurers were able to run APFs against lower costs, the initiative was abandoned, according to Van Ewijk.

She said that since then all possible options had been assessed, including joining SBZ, the non-mandatory scheme for the financial sector.

However, this option turned out to be inferior to an individual compartment at an APF, as the latter would avoid transitional problems such as differing coverage ratios and pension arrangements, the vice chair pointed out.

Pensioenfonds Equens said it intended to transfer its pensions assets and benefits administration as of 1 January, with the remaining administration to follow in the spring. It said it expected to liquidate in the second half of 2020.

The scheme has outsourced its pensions provision to Blue Sky Group and its asset management is carried out by BlackRock and ASR.

Recently, the pension funds Owase, Randstad, Sligro and Scildon also announced they would join a consolidation vehicle, while the schemes of ANWB, Invista and Ecolab indicated that they wanted to take a similar step.

The pension fund of Ortec and the former pension fund Jan Huysman Wz are also looking for a new home, following PGGM’s announcement that it wanted to cease operating its APF Volo, which manages the pensions of the two schemes.

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