The possible merger between the €4.1bn media scheme PNO and the €14bn pension fund for the Dutch printing industry (PGB) has been thrown into doubt after PNO elected to suspend consultations.

Ton Tekstra, chairman at PNO, told IPE: “We want to review our strategy. It might be possible the desired benefits could be achieved without joining PGB.”

Tekstra declined to elaborate what those benefits might be, but he did say a cooperation with PGB was still an option, “as we operate in the same sector”.

He said he expected PNO to clarify its strategy by next spring.

PNO and PGB have been in talks over a far-reaching cooperation – including a merger – for several years now.

Even at the end of last year, PGB still fully expected PNO to join its ranks, creating a new pensions giant.

It considered the end of 2013 as a “logical moment” for the merger, as all pension funds must raise their funding to the government’s minimum of 105% by then.

Currently, PGB’s coverage ratio is 103%, whereas funding at PNO was languishing at 99.6% as of the end of August.

Earlier this week, Timeos, the exclusive pensions provider for PGB, announced that it changed its status from independent foundation into a PGB-owned company, “in order to fully focus on the scheme for the printing industry”.

The provider, which initially had the intention to actively acquire clients for pension provision, said: “This is the best way for creating the necessary scale of PGB.”

Theo Flach, a spokesman at PGB, added: “Timeos’s decision fits within our current philosophy that autonomous growth of PGB offers more potential for widening our basis than extension through the provider.”

According to Flach, PGB has recently invested in a new and flexible administration system for its pension provision at Timeos.

The pension fund for the printing industry is developing into a multi-sector fund, including participants from the cardboard and chemical industry and the rubber sector.

After several new pension funds joined PGB recently, it saw the number of participants increase by 15% to more than 98,000 during the past year and a half.