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Dutch pensions industry voices concern over delay of APF vehicle

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The Dutch pensions industry has met the government’s recent decision to postpone the introduction of the new pensions vehicle APF by six months with dismay, according to IPE sister publication PensioenPro.

Opinions varied, however, on the necessity of the delay and its potential benefits.

The Dutch Pensions Federation, which called on the government to expedite the APF a year ago, said the delay might serve as an opportunity to open the vehicle to mandatory industry-wide pension funds.

But, in the opinion of Nicolette Opdam, a pensions lawyer at law firm Holland van Gijzen, the biggest impact of the postponement is that it narrows the options of a large number of pension funds considering liquidation.

She warned that full clarity about the new vehicle might come too late, as many contracts – for insured pension plans, for example – expired at year-end.

Obdam said she hoped Parliament moved quickly to address the APF Bill in its current form, and suggested contentious issues that might delay passage of the legislation – such as accommodating mandatory industry-wide schemes – be addressed at a later stage.

According to Obdam, the only important question to be answered at the present moment is the level of capital requirements for the new vehicle.

However, Sako Zeverijn, a professional trustee at several pension funds, said he preferred the APF to be “hammered out properly”.

His view was echoed by John Smolenaers, a partner at Deloitte, who said on Twitter that the postponement offered the market more potential for a “proper business case”.

The €188bn asset manager and pensions provider PGGM said it was prepared for the quick introduction of the APF, while Jeroen de Munnik, head of institutional business, pointed out that many small pension funds were looking for an alternative to their current pension plans.

Meanwhile, Cor Zeeman, chairman of the Dutch pension fund of Alcatel-Lucent, said feared the APF would come too late as the potentially favoured alternative for his scheme.

The pension fund is currently facing liquidation, as the employer terminated the implementation contract with the scheme after it reported a funding shortfall.

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