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Dutch railways and public transport schemes to merge

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The €18bn Dutch pension fund for the railways sector (SPF) and the €5bn scheme for public transport (SPOV) announced they would merge as of 1 April.

The new pension fund, Rail en Openbaar Vervoer, based on its assets, is to become the 13th largest scheme in the Netherlands, with 100,000 participants, affiliated with 90 employers.

The announcement came after both schemes said they were discussing a potential merger for a second time last year.

Earlier merger talks collapsed in 2016 because of issues such as different board culture, insufficient faith in the joint pensions provider and asset manager SPF Beheer, as well as disappointing results on cost saving.

Gerard Groten, chair of SPF, said that ever stricter local and European legislation were the main reason for the merger.

Peter-Paul Witte, SPOV’s chair, emphasised the close link between both sectors, and noted that the merger would boost labour mobility.

Both pension funds said the merger was supported by their respective accountability body, supervisory board (RvT) as well as trade unions and employers.

A funding difference is unlikely to be in the way of a merger, as the coverage ratio of SPF and SPOV stood at 109.4% and 107.1%, respectively, at September-end.

In their respective annual reports for 2018, the asset owners said the merged scheme must carry out its administration in house as of 2021.

SPF Beheer is to merge with the new pension fund and will be liquidated subsequently.

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