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EBRD-backed Slovenian giant goes east

SLOVENIA - Slovenian pension provider Prva is one of the first to be granted a license to sell compulsory supplementary pension products under Romania's newly-created second pillar.

Prva was among 10 players interested in the compulsory pension sector and filing for a license with the Private Pension Supervision Commission (CSSPP).

The second pillar is to start collecting money later this year and will pass the €1bn mark over the next five years but is predicted to accumulate €40bn by 2027.

Prima Pensie Fond de Pensii is the seventh pension or asset management subsidary set up by Prva Group in Eastern Europe as its operations now comprise Slovenia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, Romania and Ukraine.

The licence for providing occupational pensions in the Ukraine was obtained earlier this month. Prva estimates its subsidiary Druga penzija will have 25,000 members and €750,000 in assets under management.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) decided earlier this year to buy a 20% stake in Prva pokojninska druzba (PPD) following a capital increase agreed by its other shareholders.

The €8m equity backing for the privately-owned manager of voluntary and mandatory pension schemes was aimed at expanding the business in Eastern Europe and in the future also to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

A spokesman for the EBRD confirmed to IPE the most recent expansion of business "was in agreement with the bank" and EBRD is "very supportive of this move". He also said Prva will increase its operations in Serbia in the near future.

"The EBRD has always supported pension reforms in its countries of operation," the bank said in a statement following the PPD share purchase in March.

"The investment in PPD will enable the EBRD to support a capable regional pension manager in the provision of pension insurance and pension fund management products across the region."

The EBRD stressed the importance of developing financial institutions in southeastern Europe where because of "limited disposable income, lack of private pensions saving culture and relatively small size of the markets, the choice of such [pension] products remains currently limited".

Established in 2000, Prva today has over 67,000 pension policyholders and a 20% market share in Slovenia.

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