UK/NETHERLANDS - Mn Services, the Dutch pension provider and fiduciary manager, is in the advanced stages of recruiting an individual to head a UK office slated for opening by the end of the year.
The company is also in exclusive talks with an - as yet - unnamed financial services provider and may offer its services on a third-party basis through a strategic alliance.
The firm, which manages some €65bn both itself and on a multi-manager basis, intends to offer a service based on its Dutch fiduciary management model to UK pension funds.
While it will not be branded as such, Ruud Hagendijk, CEO of Mn Services, confirmed to IPE, it will still focus on multi-manager investing, liability and risk management, as well as on regulatory, reporting and administration services.
"The key issue for us is to get the right people on board," said Eric Hulshof, director, risk, reporting and operations, at Mn Services, who is also responsible for the firm's UK expansion plans. "We are in negotiations with one person, which we aim to finalise by the end of July."
He continued: "We are looking for someone who can have oversight of the complexity of the operations we have and secondly someone who is entrepreneurial and who can build up a position in the market from the basis of a local branch."
The UK capability will also be backed up by expertise in the Netherlands, Hulshof added.
One of the responsibilities of the UK director will be to determine a business plan for the UK market. Hulshof said the company envisages employing four people initially to work on the development of the business plan. "If there is a business case and a need we may look to employing up to 10 people over the medium-term," he added.
Although Hulshof would not comment in detail on the prospect of a strategic alliance, it is understood this could involve white labelling.
"We are talking to one party on an exclusive basis but are not committing ourselves to any single approach in the market at the moment, also because we are not certain how we will offer our product," he said.
"As soon as we have staff on board the first assignment will probably be to determine how we bring our products and solutions into the market."
The company, which is owned by the two Dutch metal industry pension funds - BPMT and PME - is also currently in merger talks with Syntrus, the Dutch fiduciary manager owned by Achmea.
Hagendijk told IPE a date of the end of summer had been set to achieve an agreement but emphasised this new tie-up would not affect the merger plans. He also said his firm was pushing for the merged entity to adopt Mn Services' business model.
Mn Services manages roughly 50% of its €65bn in assets internally - in the areas of European fixed income, European equities and emerging markets bonds. It also has relationships with some 250 asset managers, including those operating in alternatives.
APG, the asset management arm of the ABP pension fund, last month announced its formal merger with Cordares, the fiduciary manager of the construction industry pension fund. Cordares and Mn Services had been merger suitors for a number of years until 2004 when talks were abandoned.
However, in 2006 Cordares and Mn Services announced plans for a strategic alliance to target foreign expansion although it would appear this plan has been quietly shelved.
Mn Services is the second Dutch pensions-focused entrant to the UK market in the last 12 months, following the debut of Cardano Risk Management last year.
Cardano has already won a number of mandates for its solvency management approach, including those from Southern Electric, GKN and AstraZeneca, and is also close to appointing its twentieth staff member, CEO Kerrin Rosenberg confirmed to IPE last week.
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