NETHERLANDS - Five of the 14 Dutch pension funds facing rights cuts still have not made themselves known despite calls from regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), the Authority Financial Markets (AFM) and the pension schemes' lobbying organisation VB.
Over the weekend, it emerged that the DNB had approached the pension funds of building company Ballast Nedam, the Dutch scheme of energy company Total and the industry-wide scheme for the paint and printing ink sector to discuss necessary measures.
In addition, the company schemes of corporate advice bureau GITP and the pension fund for notaries have announced that they might consider the option of a rights cut in their recovery plans.
Earlier, the large industry-wide metal scheme PME, the occupational schemes for notaries (SNPF) and public pharmacists (SPOA), as well as the company pension fund of animal feedstock producer Nutreco, said DNB wanted them to take action against a shortfall.
The €656 Ballast-Nedam scheme saw its coverage ratio drop from 94.1% to 89% in the second quarter this year despite a 2.8% assets rise over the same period.
Its recovery plan aimed at a funding level of 97.3% at the end of 2010.
An evaluation in March had indicated that the scheme could reach the required coverage ratio of 104.2% without cuts at the end of 2013, according to officials.
Although the Total pension fund returned 18.2% on investments last year, which led to a 15% increase of its assets to €231m and a coverage ratio of 97% at July-end, the chances of a cut are now real, according to Wim de Vey, its chairman.
He pointed out that the scheme had already factored in four cuts, spread out over its five-year recovery period, but that it had managed to avoid actual cuts so far because of improvement of the scheme's financial position.
The €100m pension fund for the paint and printing sector said its funding level of 86.6% at July-end was 0.8 percentage points short of its recovery target, adding that its recovery plan had factored in a 5.9% discount on 1 April 2012.
Officials stressed that the Pensioenfonds voor de Verf en Drukinktindustrie will deploy any alternative measures at its disposal and implement cuts only as a last resort.
Officials at the €98m pension fund of GITP said they were surprised about DNB's announcement, as "the improvement of our recovery is still on schedule", with a funding of 92.6% at July-end, being ahead of the target of 91.5% at the end of 2010.
With a coverage ratio of 92% at the end of last month, the €575m pension plan of notaries (BPF) was 1 percentage point short of its planned recovery to 93% at the end of 2010, with officials adding that the option of a rights cut has not disappeared altogether.
However, the 14 pension funds might need to implement bigger cuts than indicated in their recovery plan, as their initial plans were based on a deadline of 1 April 2012, pension consultant Rob Bakker suggested.
He said: "Although announcing rights cuts is not easy, the pension funds that haven't gone public yet certainly haven't done a good job in communicating with their participants."