Akzo Nobel, the chemicals multinational, plans to set up a common investment fund for its European pensions arrangements.

Discussing the company’s plans Bert Kiffen, co-ordinator international pensions affairs, said: It is our view that with a single currency, one investment fund will be possible.”

The scheme is still at the planning stage and Kiffen raised several issues still to be determined including the fund structure, the nature of the trustees, questions of when assets are transferred, the choice of investment manager and the minimisation of transfer costs. Company policy is to use defined contribution where possible.

The company co-ordinates its benefits matters from Akzo Nobel Risk and Insurance Management (ARIM) in the Netherlands.

The group has recently completed the harmonisation of the national pension funds of its constituent divisions in Ireland, Norway and Germany and will complete a similar harmonisation exercise in the UK by the summer.

Disney Consumer Products is setting up an international benefits package for its most mobile employees, using offshore trusts.

Michael Seay, director of international compensation and benefits, said the company’s greatest concern was the Asia-Pacific region. “We are developing a foreign service group, creating a career path with a single benefits compensation package. In this area we will be looking to use offshore trusts.”

Discussing the details, he added: “It’s a straight DC scheme. There will be a scheduled contribution, a base contribution based on service, then an employee contribution matched by the company. But the tax is complicated and it is a cost that we are still contributing. We are still designing the plan.”

Johnson & Johnson corporate manager international benefits Jane Bulger said that the company would like to put together a retirement scheme covering the world but acknowledged that different social security, taxation and regulatory arrangements frustrated these ambitions. The company’s current strategy is to retain highly mobile employees in the home scheme as far as possible.

She cited supposed EU harmonisation as one example of the difficulties to be faced. “Within Europe, which is supposed to be borderless, if you have a UK expat in Spain and you pay a contribution to the UK, you don’t get a tax deduction. But why not? If one of the ideas behind Europe is to make people mobile they have to do something about this. But we think it is still 10 years away,” she said.”