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Netherlands roundup: Publishing scheme eyes buyout

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The €450m pension fund of Dutch publisher VNU is considering an insurance buyout in order to safeguard its inflation-linked benefits.

In a newsletter, it said the transfer to an insurer would only go ahead if the scheme itself could fund a significant part of future inflation compensation.

Although most of its liabilities have already been insured with Aegon, the pension fund still pays indexation from its own assets. This includes the risk that the scheme is unable to achieve its indexation target.

During the past few months Pensioenfonds VNU has reduced its risk exposure by lowering its equity allocation from 50% to 20%.

Its board said that it had asked for quotes from three insurers, including Aegon, which has already insured 86% of the scheme’s liabilities.

The pension fund said it preferred a buyout with a focus on consumer price index (CPI) inflation, as it used this measure to grant uplifts to its deferred participants and 3,000 pensioners.

Benefits for VNU’s 227 active participants, however, are linked to wage inflation.

If the Pensioenfonds VNU could not afford the insurance buyout, it would continue as an independent scheme for the time being, it said.

Nielsen, the sponsoring employer, is assessing the possibility of shifting future pensions accrual elsewhere, probably under a defined contribution plan, in line with the parent company’s worldwide pensions arrangements.

In its annual report for 2017, the scheme indicated that continuing as a closed pension fund would be another option.

The VNU scheme has 5,300 participants in total.

Private credit specialist targets Benelux expansion

UK asset manager Pemberton has opened an office in Amsterdam, citing “increased investment opportunities in the Benelux”.

The company, which specialises in private credit, said it wanted to enforce its relationship with local clients as well as private equity and other financial firms.

At the same time, Pemberton has appointed Boris Harmsen as managing director and head of Benelux.

Harmsen joins from IKB Deutsche Industriebank, where he was head of leverage finance and sponsor coverage for Benelux.

Prior to this, Harmsen had positions at Dutch asset manager Egeria, Deutsche Bank and ABN Amro Bank.

London-based Pemberton has also offices in Frankfurt, Madrid, Milan, Luxembourg and Paris, and is 40% owned by Legal & General.

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