NETHERLANDS - The €200m pension fund of Dutch maritime service provider Smit Internationale has said it intends to cut pension benefits by 13.2% if its sponsoring company refuses to make additional contributions.

The benefits discount would be required to improve the financial position of the Smit scheme, which had a coverage ratio of 86.6% at the end of July.

Because the minimum required funding in the Netherlands is 105%, the shortfall has come to €28m, the pension fund said.

However, the scheme's board indicated it was now investigating whether Smit could legally be forced to plug the gap.

A pensioners group has accused Smit's executive board of having extracted assets in the past and now reneging on its promise to pay additional contributions during hard times, according to financial daily FD.

Dredging company Boskalis - Smit's new owner - has already stressed that it has no legal obligation to plug the gap, adding that Smit Internationale had no intention of making a voluntary extra contribution.

The Smit pension fund has more than 2,100 participants, 365 being active.

The pension fund is one of the 14 schemes that were informed by former social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner to start preparing for early benefits cuts, as the funds' mapped out improvement had fallen short of their recovery plans.