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Pension fund for Dutch flower sector facing liquidation

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GBP, the €50m industry-wide pension fund for the wholesale flowers and plants sector in the Netherlands, has said it wants to liquidate itself and is urgently seeking an alternative solution for the pensions provision for its 6,500 participants.

Gerard Roest, employees chairman, told IPE: “We are too small to continue independently. Our administration costs of €285 are too high and still rising.”

An additional problem is that the €424bn asset manager APG unilaterally cancelled its contract at the end of 2014, as it considered GBP too small, according to Roest.

As a consequence, GBP has temporarily placed its assets with a money market fund at NN Investment Partners, “where it is risk-free, indeed, but hardly generates a return either,” the chairman said.

He said the pension fund and social partners were looking at the options, including joining an insurer or the new pensions vehicle PPI.

But he said the pension fund preferred joining a larger industry-wide scheme.

So far, negotiations with other schemes have failed to produce a result, mainly because they assessed the risk of taking in GBP as too high, according to the chairman.

“As we are a non-mandatory scheme,” he said, “we can’t guarantee that all our affiliated employers will join a new pension fund.”

GBP, established in 2007, has an individual defined contribution plan and a contribution of approximately 14% of the pensionable salary.

“As we don’t have much financial margin to increase our premium, joining another industry-wide scheme with a more expensive pension plan is difficult,” Roest said.

However, GBP is financially in good shape.

According to the chairman, the official policy funding stood at 123%, and the pension fund had been able to grant indexation every year so far.

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