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Infrastructure investments soar at Dutch scheme for cleaners

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NETHERLANDS – Infrastructure investments at Schoonmaak, the €2.8bn pension fund for the Dutch cleaning sector, returned more than 7% last year, outperforming the benchmark by 10.4%.

The pension fund, in its 2012 annual report, cited improving market conditions, including a recovering port sector in the US.

However, Schoonmaak’s private equity holdings fell 12.5% short of the benchmark, returning just 1.2%.

The scheme put the “disappointing” result down to high start-up costs at one of the funds in which it invested.

It reported an overall return of 12.4%, with 2.4 percentage points of performance generated by a 60% interest hedge on liabilities and a 75% currency cover on the US dollar, the British pound and the yen.

Schoonmaak said it left its investment policy largely unchanged, following adjustments in the previous year in the wake of an asset-liability management study (ALM).

However, it said it would conduct a new ALM study this year as part of a review of its investment strategy.

Last year, the pension fund’s 15.3% equity portfolio returned 16.7%.

Schoonmaak attributed the portfolio’s 0.3-percentage-point underperformance to an underweighting of better performing “quality” equities.

Its 71% fixed income holdings generated 11.1%, with emerging market debt returning 17.6%.

The pension fund said its 8.4% property portfolio lost 0.6% and that its commodities investments lost 2%.

Its also confirmed it would restructure its board based on a single-tier model, and that it would establish a “brainstorming” group of external experts for internal supervision.

The scheme’s coverage ratio – 103.2% at year-end – dropped to 101.1% as of last July.

Schoonmaak has more than 143,000 active participants, 353,600 deferred members and 14,560 pensioners affiliated with 3,567 employers.

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