NETHERLANDS – A Dutch treasury official is to take over from former Unilever pension executive Jos van Niekerk as director of the Dutch Foundation for Corporate Governance Research for Pension Funds, or SCGOP.

Rients Abma, 33, will take over from the retiring van Niekerk at the end of this year. Van Niekerk joined SCGOP two years ago, after leaving Unilever Pension Fund, where he was a director. Abma will start as a project manager on August 1.

Abma is currently at the Dutch Treasury. He has been secretary of the Tabaksblat Committee for corporate governance, and still is secretary to the Monitoring Committee. He has also been employed as a policy officer for economic affairs - specialising in corporate governance - at VNO-NCW, the confederation of the Dutch Industry and Employers.

Mainly due to the new code for corporate governance, the foundation has opened its membership to insurers, investment institutions and asset managers. It added that F&C, ING Investment Management and Robeco have recently decided to join.

“A joint project group will start working at a new business plan, detailing the structure, the board, the service package and the contribution of the new SCGOP,” van Niekerk told IPE. “The challenge is to further improve a well-performing organisation, which can offer quick and sound advice.”

“A specific point of attention will be making the SCGOP be heard in Brussels,” he added. “Since an increasing amount of assets has been invested abroad, it is important that the EU know about our values, when drafting new directives.”

“We need to get the noses of all the institutional investors into the same direction for corporate governance,” explained Abma his future challenge. “We will need to raise the pressure on listed companies to complying with the Tabaksblat Code. Once our platform has been successful, we could expand our work to other European countries.”

The SCGOP was founded in 1998 by eight large pension funds. At present is has 32 members. Together they represent more than 80% of the invested assets of Dutch schemes.