NETHERLANDS - The assets under management of Dutch fiduciary manager MN Services have exceeded €30bn, the company has announced.

“The past 18 months especially have seen a sharp increase, due to six new clients and excellent returns on investments”, it said in a statement.

“Because of these results, MN Services is one of the few asset managers which has generated autonomous growth during the past couple of years”, it added.

The company claims to be in the top five of asset managers for Dutch pension schemes now. On January 2000, its assets under management were €18.9bn.

MN Services attribute the results to the ‘stable returns’ during the difficult investment years 2001 and 2002, and the diversification within its investment portfolios and product innovation.

“We have been forerunner in alternative investments, e.g. hedge funds, private equity, commodities and inflation-related products”, it said.

Among MN’s new clients are the pension schemes of Volvo Car, technical research institute TNO, storage firm Vopak and pensions provider ASW.

Last month chairman Ruud Hagendijk indicated that MN was considering expanding out of its home market, possibly into the UK and elsewhere in Europe, because the domestic market was starting to become too small.

Meanwhile, is has become clear that the Dutch government is heading for a postponement of the ‘levensloop’, or life course, scheme until January 1 2007.

A majority in parliament – the Christian Democrats CDA and the labour party PvdA – want to give workers a year extra time for the mandatory choice between the present and continuing tax-friendly savings scheme ‘spaarloon’, and the new levensloop.

Representatives of both parties have indicated that there are many obscurities left around the implementation of the levensloop. In many cases employers and employees still need to agree on levensloop schemes in collective labour agreements, or CAO’s. Moreover, pension funds and insurers must start offering levensloop schemes.

The levensloop will replace prepension and VUT schemes, and allows intermediate leave for care, parental leave and study, as well as early retirement. The aim of the new scheme is to discourage early retirement.

At the same time, the Labour Foundation, or Star, said that continuing working after the official retirement age of 65 must be possible, if employer and employee agree. “There are no obstacles in pension schemes and CAO’s”, it added in an advice to the government.

According to the Star, flexible arrangements – e.g. part time pension schemes - need to be encouraged, especially for workers with an insufficient pension.

Extra stimuli aren’t necessary, since over 65’s won’t be paying social and pension premiums any more in general, the Star argues. “Fiscal legislation allows working until 70, or when a pension equalling the salary has been reached.”