GERMANY – Auto component maker ZF Friedrichshafen is to take advice on two new defined contribution pension plans from consulting firm Allianz Pension Partners.

Along with its traditional defined benefit plan, ZF said it now offered its 34,500 German employees two DC plans, including a Direktversicherung (direct insurance contract) and a Pensionsfonds, which is the German equivalent of an Anglo-Saxon pension fund.

ZF said APP would advise both on the launch and administration of the plans. Asset management will be handled by Allianz Global Investors and life insurer Allianz Leben – which are both part of bancassurance giant Allianz.

APP is a 60-member team that has been marketing and administrating the MetallRente, an occupational pension targeted at Germany’s engineering and metalworking industries, since 2002. The two new plans at ZF bear the name MetallRente.

Klaus Kolley, head of personnel at ZF, said one of the reasons why his firm chose APP’s plans was because “they offered two very distinct investment strategies”. The more conservative Direktversicherung invests heavily in fixed income while the Pensionsfonds is an equity-oriented vehicle.

Last June, APP said it would seek to further increase “the very good sales” of the MetallRente in 2004. That year, sales of the occupational pension totalled 140,000, up 44,000 from 2003.

Contributions to the MetallRente fund rose to €176m in 2004 from €120m in 2003.

Beyond the MetallRente, APP offers so-called ‘overtime accounts’ and contractual trust arrangements (CTAs) – two products currently heavily demanded by German corporate clients.

ZF, a specialist in auto transmissions, employs 54,500 people worldwide. In 2005, it had sales of €10.7bn.