NETHERLANDS - The combined assets of Dutch pension funds increased by 10% to €743bn in 2009, after a decrease of 17% during the previous year, according to pensions regulator De Nederlandse Bank (DNB).

Industry-wide schemes saw their combined assets recover by almost 8% to €521bn, while company schemes' assets rose by 13% to €197bn, the DNB's latest statistical bulletin revealed.

In a significant leap of performance, occupational schemes - for professions such as doctors and notaries - delivered an increase of assets of almost 30% to €24.5bn.

DNB said pension funds' allocation to equity and other investments rose from €277bn to €462bn last year, whereas their combined fixed income investments dropped by €90bn to €169bn during the same period.

At the same time, schemes' holdings in derivatives and loans decreased by €12bn to €28bn and by €14bn to €34bn respectively, the pensions watchdog said, while noting pension funds' property investments remained almost constant at €16bn in 2009.

DNB has found the indexation of pension claims and benefits will be raised by no more than 0.4% in 2010 - failing short of pension funds' ambitions, which are based on salary and price rises in 2009.

It also said the combined pension contributions - paid by workers and employers - will rise from 16% to 16.4% of the salary in 2010.

Statistics delivered by the pensions supervisor suggest over 83% of pension funds have now contracted-out their administration, while over 89% of schemes outsource the management of at least 30% of assets.

Over the course of 2009, 38% of the 567 pension funds had a participants' council in place, and over 86% established an accountability body while a visitation committee was the preferred method for internal supervision at 72% of the schemes analysed, according to DNB.

In 2009, approximately 82% of pension schemes still had final salary arrangements, whereas 320 schemes had an average salary-based pension plan, with another 22 pension funds having a combination of average and final salary arrangements.

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