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Dutch roundup: Insurer Zwitserleven backs €400m buyout

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Dutch insurer Zwitserleven has taken over the liabilities of VPTech, the early retirement scheme for the wholesale sector, in a €400m buy-out.

Kees de Wit, the scheme’s chairman, said that the industry-wide scheme had been able to negotiate guaranteed benefits with an annual indexation of 1.4%, largely thanks to its funding level of 114%.

“In the old situation we would have achieved returns of less than 1%, while still having to deal with the risks,” he said.

He added that the pension fund, which still implemented its DB plan in-house, expected that costs would become too high and risk distribution across the different age groups of its participants would become too unbalanced.

VPTech is one of the 15 industry-wide schemes that has had to leave Syntrus Achmea, after the administrator last year admitted it was not able to cope with the multitude of arrangements at industry-wide pension funds.

According to de Wit, VPTech had asked three insurers to tender, but only Zwitserleven was seriously interested.

Hans Visser, general manager for pensions at Zwitserleven, said that the buyout was part of the insurer’s growth strategy.

“A larger scale will enable us to increase our efficiency, which will also benefit our clients,” he said.

According to Visser, Zwitserleven has re-entered the buyout market as his company has regained financial leeway.

In 2015, Vivat – Zwitserleven’s parent company and the successor of SNS Reaal – was taken over by Chinese insurer Anbang.

Architects’ scheme moves pensions provision to APG

Another former Syntrus Achmea client has found a new home: the €4.5bn sector scheme for Architect Bureaus (PFA) is to move its pensions administration to APG.

As of 1 January 2018, APG will carry out both the administration of pension rights and the collection of contributions and benefit payments.

Jan Willem Boot, PFA’s chairman, said the pension fund did not consider changing its current asset managers, PGGM and Syntrus Achmea Real Estate & Finance (SAREF). It also decided to keep BMO Global Asset Management as its fiduciary manager.

The architect scheme has approximately 7,060 workers, 12,585 pensioners, and 28,295 deferred members.

When asked by IPE, APG said that it would fully focus on the arrival of PFA and that it was not in talks with other schemes seeking an alternative to Syntrus Achmea.

PFA is APG’s first new client since 2011, when the occupational pension fund for medical consultants (SPMS) outsourced administration and communication for its 15,000 participants. SPMS has since extended its contract till 2021.

ASR eyes asset and fiduciary management expansion

Dutch insurer ASR is to open its property management services to third parties, using the expertise of the €5bn asset manager BNG Vermogensbeheer, which it acquired in 2015 from Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten.

In its annual report for 2016, ASR also indicated that it wanted to expand its fiduciary management services, deploying its knowledge on environmental, social, and governance investment under the new label ASR De Nederlandse Vermogensbeheerders.

Last year, ASR said it would expand its asset management proposition to third parties, resulting in a €1.7bn mandate from Noord-Brabant county council in December.

The company made clear that it expected growth to accelerate thanks to a new and extended AIFMD licence, “which would increase the potential for diversification”.

It said it wanted to expand its €4.6bn property portfolio through the acquisition of individual assets, funds, portfolios and management contracts. Last year, it established a €400m office fund for institutional investors.

Last year, however, it divested its property development business and a number of its development projects, as it deemed the operations were no longer core tasks.

At the end of 2016, the insurer had €57bn of assets under management in total.

It reported an operational result on asset management and banking of €2m – a drop of 83% – citing higher costs in the wake of the acquisition of BNG Vermogensbeheer, which has been renamed ASR Vermogensbeheer.

The company reported a 14.1% return on equity, and said that it would no longer invest in companies that committed “serious environmental violations” or generated more than 30% of their income from coal.

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