FRANCE - Ionis, the €200m French pensions and savings group, is mulling cross-border cooperation with Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and Italy.

François Després, Ionis' commercial director for the North-West region, told delegates at today's AEIP conference in Brussels on territorial and regional social protection schemes, his organisation is between "imagination and execution" of cross-border plans.

Ionis' Languedoc Roussillon fund is working on possible links with the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain, and Nord-Pas-de-Calais is in talks with Belgium, said Després.

Moreover, the organisation, with around €200m in assets under management and seven regional pension funds, sees possibilities of cooperation between the Rhône-Alpes fund and Switzerland, and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region with Italy.

Possible difficulties for the plans might be France's centralised governance and a new pension review in 2008, though Després declined to give further comment, arguing the discussions are at a very early stage.

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