NETHERLANDS - The two largest Dutch pension providers, MN Services and Cordares, have decided to intensify their cooperation by pooling their investment expertise.

The move follows the setting up a shared IT facility some six months ago – although the two deny they’re planning to merge.

The €55bn combination will offer small and medium pension funds services such as asset management, administration, governance support, actuarial and legal services, the two said in a joint statement.

“The pension funds keep their own responsibility for their scheme. They remain in the driver’s seat, but lease their preferred vehicle,” they added.

They said strict supervisory requirements and new legislation and accounting rules are increasingly hampering small and average schemes.

“These schemes have shown a growing need to contract out complex elements of their operational management to larger specialized parties with a strong focus on risk management,” they explained.

Cordares chairman Joep Schouten denied to IPE that the new cooperation is a precursor to a merger with MN Services.

“A couple of years ago, when Cordares was still SFB Group, we already discussed a merger, however we concluded that the timing was not yet right for such a decision. Nevertheless, MN Services and Cordares complement each other very well. Both companies remain in close contact."

“This time, we have chosen for a concept, instead of a complicated legal construction,” Schouten added.

“By pooling our experience, knowledge and expertise, we draw up considerable battle power at European level, and we’d like to present ourselves that way as well. We are very capable of operating in the European market,” Schouten explained.

The €23bn Cordares specialises in pensions management and income insurance for over a million workers. As an independent organisation, pensions provider and insurer, €32bn MN Services offers support in governance and management of institutional assets as well. It also carries out the pensions administration for over a million workers.