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Supervisory board of €11bn Dutch real estate manager quits unexpectedly

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The €11bn Dutch property investor Bouwinvest is seeking a new supervisory board (RvC) after all of its four members resigned, following a reported dispute with owner BpfBouw about the investor’s strategy and organisation.

The entire RvC resigned in December, while chairman Kees Beuving and member Roel Wijmenga – also chairman of the €19.4bn Philips Pensioenfonds – were to complete their statutory term at the end of December.

Dick van Hal, chief executive of Bouwinvest and spokesman for the parties involved, said that the resignations were unexpected and the differing views turned out to be irreconcilable.

He added that he could not provide details about the conflict.

Van Hal said he didn’t recognise claims made in a recent analysis in trade journal Vastgoedmarkt, which suggested that the dispute was about Bouwinvest’s intention to increase its assets under management to €15bn in 2021. BpfBouw – the €58bn pension fund for the building sector – did not want a change, according to the journal.

Vastgoedmarkt reported that regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) wanted BpfBouw to reduce its 16.5% allocation to real estate.

The report also suggested that DNB had been critical of Bouwinvest’s growth target, which was in part based on investments by other pension funds. This would have reduced the pension fund’s control over Bouwinvest.

However, Van Hal dismissed these suggestions as “nonsense”, pointing out that both the RvC and BpfBouw had endorsed the growth target, and that the 19% strategic property allocation of the pension fund hadn’t changed.

“I would have known if DNB opposed this goal,” he said. “Moreover, BpfBouw is still by far the largest stakeholder in our investment funds.”

Bouwinvest’s CEO also insisted that all parties agreed on the organisational changes needed for growth, including the extension of the executive team and new offices in Sydney and New York.

According to Van Hal, the departing RvC will stay on until a new supervisory board was installed. “We aim to have filled in the vacancies no later than 1 April,” he said.

BpfBouw’s Dutch property holdings are invested in five funds of Bouwinvest.

Three funds for residential, retail, and offices are open to investments from other pension funds, which currently have a combined stake of €1bn. BpfBouw also invests in hotel and healthcare funds.

The pension fund’s stakes in international real estate are invested in mandates for Europe ex-Netherlands, North America and Asia Pacific.

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