Energy giant ExxonMobil is to merge its €2.5bn Dutch pension fund Protector with its €400m Belgian counterpart ExxonMobil OFP.

The company submitted a concrete proposal to its works council (OR) for a full merger, which it said would produce “considerable savings”.

The new scheme – which, as of the outset of 2017, would be based in Belgium – would operate with ring-fenced Dutch and Belgian assets and separate administration, under a board composed of members of the management team of the ExxonMobile companies in both countries.

Although the structure of the merger scheme would be subject to Belgian legislation, Protector’s current average salary plan with full indexation would remain intact, according to the Dutch pension fund.

It added that the employer’s promise to meet in any funding gap – as well as the scheme’s obligation to refund surplus returns – would remain in place, and that Syntrus Achmea would continue to handle administration.

In the new set-up, the right of say on Dutch pension assets would be placed with an elected Pensions Council consisting of two workers and two pensioners affiliated with ExxonMobil’s Dutch companies, Esso Nederland, ExxonMobil Financial Services and ExxonMobil Chemical Holland.

Protector manages the pension assets of almost 5,000 participants and pensioners.

According to Gerda Shultz, ExxonMobil’s pensions manager for the Benelux region, Protector enjoyed a coverage ratio of 125%, as of the end of 2015.

As a consequence of the contract with the employer, the pension fund refunded more than €100m to the company last year, following a return on investments of 25.5% in 2014.