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The pension funds of several financial companies in the Netherlands are in exploratory talks to launch a ‘general pension fund’, or APF, for the financial sector.

Representatives of the pension funds of custodian KAS Bank, pay firm Equens and GE Artesia Bank said they were participating in working groups to consider their options.

The pension fund for Van Lanschot Bankiers previously confirmed its participation in January, making for a total of four participants.

However, the various actors, when interviewed by IPE sister publication PensioenPro, made no mention of the other participants, confirming only their own individual participation.

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All players involved in the working groups stressed that talks were at a preliminary stage, and that participants in the discussions could pull out, and that other parties could join in.

The €615m pension fund of Equens said it took part in talks due to its falling number of participants, as well as its “considerable” costs per participant.

Its chairman, Ben Haasdijk, said: “The APF is the only right option for the future.”

He said his scheme preferred an APF to a commercial provider to avoid having to buy services from it.

The €288m scheme of KAS Bank cited the benefits of scale, as well as the ability to maintain its own identity.

According to Tamis Stuker, board member of the KAS pension fund, all participating companies are likely to have an individual ring within the APF.

The Dutch scheme of GE Artesia Bank, a division of US-based General Electric, also confirmed that it was participating in the working groups, but it said it did not yet know whether it would join the APF.

Irma Weering, trustee of the scheme, said it was still assessing its future, as its employer ceased its Dutch operations in 2013.

The Dutch pension fund of Royal Bank of Scotland previously showed an interest in the APF and recently announced that it was also weighing its options for the future.

If all schemes were to join the APF, the new general pension fund would have approximately 10,000 participants and more than €2bn in assets.

The new APF pensions vehicle allows the implementation of multiple pension plans within a single scheme, with a single independent board, while ring-fencing assets.

The aim is to cut implementation costs through the benefits of scale.

The APF is expected to be introduced on 1 January 2016.

In 2012, several companies tried unsuccessfully to establish a new industry-wide pension fund – dubbed Pecunia – for the financial sector.

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