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Dutch pension fund replaces equity managers with BlackRock

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SNPF, the €1.4bn pension fund for Dutch notaries, has replaced equity managers JP Morgan Asset Management and BNP Paribas for BlackRock to “streamline” its investment portfolio.

The pension fund, according to its 2014 annual report, made the changes to cut costs and reduce risk. 

It awarded BlackRock two passive mandates, covering developed and emerging markets.

SNPF also concentrated its high-yield investments within the European credit section of its return portfolio.

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As a result, its matching portfolio now consists solely of government bonds and interest derivatives.

Last year, the pension fund adopted a dynamic asset allocation strategy centred around SNPF’s ‘policy funding’.

Under this new strategy, the scheme raises or lowers the risk profile of its investments in synch with its coverage ratio.

SNPF chairman Eric Greup conceded that the strategy change had not yet taken into account the planned merger with SBMN, the €1bn pension fund for notaries’ staff.

“Currently,” he said, “a working committee is assessing how the future joint investment policy could be shaped.”

Greup explained that the schemes’ investment model differed too greatly for amendments ahead of the merger, but he said options had been identified for strategic asset allocation and interest hedges.

SBMN has contracted out its asset management to Aegon AM.

At the start of 2015, it replaced its capital contract for investments with Aegon funds, which allowed SBMN to choose its desired risk/return profile.

Last year, the scheme for notaries’ staff replaced its interest hedge through the Aegon Long Duration Overlay fund with Aegon’s Strategic Liability-Management Fund (SLM).

Last year, SNPF also outsourced its pensions administration to TKP Pensions.

Greup warned that the planned merger was taking longer than expected and acknowledged that it could face a second delay.

“Nevertheless,” he said, “our intention still is that the merger should start on 1 January retrospectively, if the deal is concluded not too long after this date.”

According to Greup, all relevant bodies and authorities have already approved the merger plan, including the Dutch government.

“However, the Council of State, the Netherlands’ highest legal college, is still assessing the necessary amendment of the Notaries Act,” he said.

SNPF and SBMN returned 24.1% and 25.6%, respectively, last year, chiefly due to their interest hedges.

Just before the recent reduction of the ultimate forward rate, their funding ratios were 108% and 109.7%, respectively.

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