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Dutch SME initiative says pension funds put off by lack of scale

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Ids van der Weij – director at Ondernemend Oranje Kapitaal (OOK), a Dutch holding company launched in 2013 to invest in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – has attributed a lack of interest from pension funds to the OOK’s relatively small scale of planned investments.

To date, no Dutch pension funds have taken a stake in the investment vehicle, according to IPE sister publication PensioenPro.

“Many funds have a minimum amount they’d like to invest – for instance, €25m – while at the same time not exceeding a 15% stake in the investment,” Van der Weij said. “This often doesn’t match our format.”

He added: “And because smaller pension funds often outsource their asset management to larger players, they don’t invest through the OOK either.”

Van der Weij also cited the fact the OOK is a holding company with a “different” legal structure, as well as its lack of a track record.

The director said the OOK expected to make its first investments in Dutch SMEs soon, adding that the target return would be 15%.

None of the local-investment initiatives in the Netherlands has yet been able to report any progress on actual capital attracted, or investments made.

The Netherlands Investment Institution (NII), launched last October, is still developing proposals for concrete long-term investments in infrastructure, energy, sustainability, care and SMEs, according to its chief executive, Loek Sibbing.

And the Netherlands Enterprises Fund (Ondernemingsfonds), an initiative launched by the Dutch financial sector – including stock exchange Euronext and asset manager Robeco – said it was still a “work in progress”.

When it was launched in January last year, it said it aimed to generate €1bn to co-finance loans to local companies, and that it expected to issue its first loans in 2014.

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