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Local-investment initiatives get lukewarm reception from Dutch industry

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Investment professionals attending the Dutch Pensions Federation’s annual congress have expressed doubts about investing locally through the country’s new Investment Institution (NII) or National Mortgage Institution (NHI).

Speaking on an experts’ panel during the congress, Toine van der Stee, chief executive at asset manager Blue Sky Group, said his company would not change its “carefully designed” investment policy “simply because politics deemed it necessary”.

“We are not a philanthropic institution,” he added. “Our task is to offer purchasing power for the participants of our clients.”

Van der Stee went on to say that Blue Sky – asset manager for the large KLM pension funds – would be more interested in investing in inflation-linked bonds, which the Dutch Treasury currently does not issue.

He also argued that the government needed to arrive at a consistent, long-term policy if it wanted to make local investments more attractive to pension funds.

Geraldine Leegwater, director of the €13.5bn pension fund of ABN AMRO, added: “The government should prove itself to be a reliable partner with a unilateral policy.”

She said the government should first and foremost provide an “excellent investment climate” for all investors, and suggested that “complicated alternatives” in the Netherlands could be attractive for Dutch pension funds.

“We are not a philanthropic institution. Our task is to offer purchasing power for the participants of our clients.”

Inge van den Doel, CIO at the €47bn metal scheme PMT, said she believed initiatives generated by the market itself would have the most chance of success, while Barbara Baarsma, director of SEO Economic Survey, said the NHI should play only a temporary role in relieving banks’ liquidity problems.

She stressed that the government should provide full transparency on its guarantee in order to improve the liquidity of mortgage products to be issued by the NHI.

Bob Rädecker, director of public-market investments at asset manager PGGM, suggested the NII could help jumpstart the local market for long-term financing.

But he also stressed the importance of equal interests for both the government and investors, and pointed out that adequate returns would still be the main condition for taking investment risks.

“Don’t expect a 100% increase in our local investments,” he said.

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