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Dutch fund unfazed by ABN Amro/Barclays talks

NETHERLANDS - The board of Dutch SBZ, the industrywide pension fund for employees in the health insurance sector, has decided to maintain an agreement in principle they have with ABN Amro for a fiduciary mandate, regardless of a possible merger with Barclays.

"The board of our fund decided yesterday that we will continue the outsourcing of the investment plan with ABN Amro and Russell," Peter van Gemst, finance director at the €2.3bn fund told IPE. If everything goes according to plan, the mandates will become effective as of July 1.

Van Gemst confirmed that a possible merger between Barclays and ABN Amro would not change these plans. He commented on the developments that this was a much better situation for ABN Amro than a break-up as suggested by hedge fund TCI.

One month ago the fund had signed an agreement in principle for a €2.2bn fiduciary mandate to be awarded to ABN Amro Asset Management and Russell Investment Group.

In the talks between Barclays and ABN Amro the UK bank agreed to locate the headquarters of a possible joint operation in Amsterdam. But Van Gemst said that it was yet "far from clear" what a possible merged entity might look like once the talks are over.

Shareholders and clients of ABN Amro expect to learn more about the possible venture at the bank's annual general meeting set for April 26 in Amsterdam.

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