The €200bn asset manager PGGM has been granted a licence to run a general pension fund (APF), becoming the first pensions provider in the Netherlands to launch such a vehicle.

The new APF, named ‘Volo’, will initially aim at attracting medium-sized pension funds, indicated chairman Erik Goris in an interview with IPE sister publication Pensioen Pro.

He said he expected that PGGM’s status as a non-profit co-operative would be a winning point for sales, “as it would help keep the APF’s costs as low as possible”.

To date, general pension funds have been launched almost exclusively by insurers, with Unilever being the only company to have applied for an APF license for its two pension funds.

Volo has outsourced both its asset management and administration to PGGM, the provider of the €185bn healthcare scheme PFZW. The new APF said it expected to conclude the first contracts with new clients next year, but declined to provide further details.

Within the APF, clients can either join a group of pension funds or can be accommodated in an individual compartment.

In other news, Ronald Plasterk, minister for domestic affairs, indicated that plans to divide the pension arrangements of the €381bn civil service scheme ABP into sector-related schemes, or even to split the pension fund, have been postponed.

He said he wanted to prioritise the update of the entire pensions system.

In February, Plasterk submitted an departmental survey to parliament comprising proposals to divide ABP’s pension plan into government sector-linked arrangements, as it currently serves 14 collective labour agreements.

At the time the proposal met fierce resistance, with the unions as well as labour party and coalition partner PvdA flatly opposing it. The PvdA’s fellow-coalition partner, the liberal party VVD, indicated that it would be a matter for the social partners.

Elsewhere, Legal & General said that Chesnara, a British consolidator of pensions and life insurance, had taken over its Dutch business in a €160m transaction, and that it would continue under a new name.

Legal & General Group made clear that it wanted to focus on the UK and the US, and had for this reason already divested its operations in France and Ireland.

According to Dutch financial news daily Het Financieele Dagblad, Chesnara had indicated it wanted to follow a growth strategy in the Netherlands.

Hilversum-based Legal & General has been operating in the Netherlands since 1984 and provides collective pensions for SMEs. It has approximately 170,000 policy holders and €2.2bn of assets under management.

The take-over is subject to approval of the Dutch supervisors and has been put to Legal & General’s Dutch works council for advice.