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Trustees must make 'mental switch' on merits of PME, PMT merger

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Any potential merger between PME and PMT, the two large pension funds covering the Dutch metal industry, will depend not on any material challenges or obstacles but rather their board members making a “mental switch”, according to Hans van der Windt, PME’s outgoing director.

Speaking at a recent conference on the topic of consolidation, Van der Windt said his scheme and the €60bn PMT had already been “dancing together”, and that it was up to the social partners and trustees to overcome any remaining psychological barriers.

The metal schemes already have the same pension plan and contribution arrangements, while they are together the main clients of the €105bn asset manager and pensions provider MN.

Van der Windt, a former official at union FNV, said the merger of the two schemes would be good for the stability of the Dutch metal sector.

Koos Haakma, a partner at transition manager Mastermind, echoed Van der Windt’s views that nothing was “blocking such a move”.

He said a merged scheme would attract other smaller industry-wide schemes from related sectors, as well as company schemes exempt from participating in the mandatory industry-wide metal schemes.

“This could lead to a large scheme for the technical industry,” he said.

Jos Brocken, a board member at both PME and PMT representing the FNV, underlined the importance of any merger for employers and workers.

“Currently, value transfers for staff moving jobs within the metal sector cause a lot of unnecessary hassle,” he said.

“Moreover, a large scheme can offer more flexibility in pension arrangements.”

In his last public speech, Olaf Sleijpen, director of pension-fund supervision at regulator DNB, also highlighted both schemes’ readiness for a merger. 

“During recent separate discussions with the boards, they both mentioned the same date when I asked them,” he said.

However, Sleijpen, who is to be succeeded by Bert Boertje on 1 May, declined to be more specific.

Van der Windt is to be succeeded by industry veteran Eric Uijen this summer.

Uijen is currently director of the notaries pension fund SNPF, which is itself preparing a merger with the pension fund for notary employees, SBMN.

During his 10 years at the helm at PME, Van der Windt increased assets under management by more than one-third, chiefly via pension funds joining the scheme. 

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