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Dutch roundup: PGGM, SPH, KNVG on board seats, Eumedion

NETHERLANDS – The €8bn occupational pension fund for general practitioners (SPH) is to become the first client for tailor-made services of the €128bn pensions provider and asset manager PGGM.

As part of the process, PGGM – the provider for the €125bn healthcare scheme PFZW – will take over SPH’s provider, Doctors Pension Funds Services (DPFS).

Using the quality and expertise of DPFS, PGGM has already set up tailor-made services for occupational pension funds, named PGGM Beroepspensioenfonds Services.

In addition, it has extended its asset management services with a separate department for external segregated mandates, with SPH as its first customer.

The new department will be responsible for the selection and monitoring of external managers through segregated mandates in liquid markets, according to the three parties.

In 2011, SPH and DPFS signed an agreement with PGGM for extensive co-operation on pensions administration, asset management and board support, with PGGM becoming a stakeholder in DPFS.

Last week, the stakeholders agreed that PGGM would also take over the remaining stake in DPFS from the GPs’ scheme on 1 March 2013.

Dick Willemse, chairman of SPH, said: “SPH was looking for a co-operation with the expertise and experience of DPFS, as provider for occupational schemes, incorporated in the solidity and scale of a large provider like PGGM.

“This will optimise the service to our participants and increase our sustainability.”

Arjen van Amerongen, director at DPFS, added: “We can keep our expertise and experience in servicing occupational schemes, and can now speed up developing into the knowledge and advice centre for this sector.”

In other new, the new lobbying organisation for pensioners associations (KNVG) urged Jetta Klijnsma, the state secretary for Social Affairs, not to wait to sign into law the bill allowing pensioners a seat on pension funds’ boards.

It cited the earlier promise of former Social Affairs minister Henk Kamp to do so if Parliament failed to endorse a comprehensive bill for pension fund governance by the end of 2012.

Martin van Rooijen, KNVG chairman, said pensioners needed an immediate say on pension funds’ boards, in order to take part in discussions about important issues such as the implementation of the Pensions Agreement.

Lastly, the concept of responsible stakeholdership has been properly embraced by institutional investors, according to Eumedion, the platform that launched best practices in 2011.

No less than 95% of its members now vote at AGMs, and 81% engage with listed companies, it said, following an evaluation of its recommendations.

Pivotal in the application of best practices is the rule of ‘comply or explain’, it said.

However, Eumedion found that best practice for potential conflicts of interests had been the least adopted, and that the way members publish their voting behaviour differs varies widely.

“Many members publish their voting behaviour for each listed company and individual voting issue,” it said, “but a substantial number merely publish an aggregated voting list, or refrain from publication at all.”

Eumedion also found that no more than 40% of its members conclude their reports with a formal statement about their adherence to the best practices.

The platform said it would remind its members of the existence of the best practices, and encourage them to apply the recommendations in their annual reports or on their websites.

Eumedion’s best practices for responsible stakeholdership came into force on 1 January 2012.

They apply to all of its 70 members, representing more than €1trn in assets under management.

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