Multinationals mull Belgium as pan-European centre
BELGIUM - Three multinationals are looking to establish an OFP, Belgium's new cross-border pension vehicle, according to Eddy Wymeersch, chairman of the country's Banking, Finance and Insurance Commission (CBFA).
Two are understood to originate from Belgium while the third is an American company.
Belgium implemented the IORP pensions directive at the beginning of the year by conducting a comprehensive overhaul of its pensions system, which including the creation of OFPs, or Organisation for Financing Pensions. It also radically simplified corporate taxes in a bid to attract multinationals looking for a site for their headquarters.
"The law came into force on January 1 so it is taking time to percolate into the minds of people," Wymeersch told an audience of pension specialists in Geneva. "When people see the pros and cons I think we will see increased interest."
Philip Neyt, head of communications at Belgacom, the former national telecoms company, and president of the Belgian Pensions Funds Association said that, given a typical European equities exposure, companies pooling assets in an OFP would save 14 basis points over pooling in the Luxembourg FCP, and 7.5 basis points over an Irish CCF.
A recent US-Belgium tax treaty means that the saving could be even higher for US portfolios if the corporate sponsor of the OFP is based in either Belgium or the US.
The Netherlands has also recently launched a bid to compete for pan-European pensions business with its FGR, or fund for common account.
Elsewhere, the Belgian construction sector has set up the first industrywide pension scheme as an OFP.
Pensio B, set up on March 1 for roughly 165,000 builders, will be open to all those registered with a Belgian employer, according to a spokeswoman.
And the Belgian municipality of Kortrijk has appointed insurer Dexia to set up a so-called ‘Silver Fund', according to an official notification.