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Pension fund for Consumentenbond narrows merger candidates to two

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SPC, the €70m pension fund of Dutch consumer association Consumentenbond, has narrowed the number of potential merger partners to two – the sector-wide scheme for the printing industry PGB and the industry-wide pension fund PNO Media.

Chairman Rob Bakker, in a letter to participants, said the €20bn PGB and the €5bn PNO Media were both “attractive” candidates for the continuation of SPC’s current pension arrangements.

He said both had close ties with corporate publishing – one of the core activities of the employer – as well as an investment strategy similar to SPC’s.

Bakker said his pension fund also requested quotes from insurers Aegon, Nationale Nederlanden, Delta Lloyd and Centraal Beheer Achmea for taking over SPC’s pensions plan.

The chairman said SPC’s ultimate choice could also be a hybrid arrangement split across a pension fund and an insurer, “if this were in the interest of groups of participants”.

He stressed, however, that the pension fund aimed to keep its current collective defined contribution plan intact for as long as possible.

This year, SPC was forced to cut the annual pensions accrual from 1.75% to 1.57%, as the initial accrual rate grew too expensive.

However, Bakker suggested that a merger with PGB or PNO Media, due to their relatively low implementation costs, would allow SPC to reverse the accrual cut as early as 2016.

Last spring, the pension fund of the Consumentenbond announced that it was considering liquidation, with its chairman citing surging financial and administrative costs.

He also highlighted the problem of board continuity, pointing out that four of the six board members were older than 60, and that he had decided to step down at the end of this year after 10 years at the helm.

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