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Netherlands’ SNS to privatise pension scheme

NETHERLANDS - Dutch bancassurance group SNS Reaal plans to privatise its pension fund in a €105m move, it has emerged.

Spokesman Ad Brits confirmed the Utrecht-based group’s plans to IPE.

In negotiations with unions, the firm has proposed changing the terms of the pension scheme away from a relatively new career-average scheme – and the unions’ first reaction has been negative.

Due to the implementation of the new IAS19 accounting standards, the pension fund’s liabilities would be otherwise taken into the financial reports of the bank itself.

Brits reiterated that the new proposal is yet to be discussed by the bank and the trade unions. A new round of wage talks is set for the end of February.

Criticism of the proposal is largely based on the fact that only last year, employees have been asked to pay a five percent premium, which would have a five-year transitional period.

However, the firm now wants to privatise the corporate pension fund and proposes to pay the yearly premium (20.85% of salary, which will include the employee’s payment) to the new pension fund for a period of 10 years.

To support the new system, the group has made a provision of €105m euros.

The new arrangement has been qualified as ‘a temporary DC’ defined_contribution.

According to the company, the pension fund board and board of participants has agreed already. The conflict with the trade unions is also related to the fact that the bank-insurer only last year changed its final-salary arrangement to career-average.

Elsewhere the Dutch Foundation of Pension Specialists – the Stichting Kring van Pensioen-Specialisten - has appointed Pierre J.M. Akkermans as chairman.

Akkermans is a partner at Deloitte’s actuarial and pensions consultancy.

He will be taking over from J.W. Rietmulder, who has been chairman since the establishment of the organisation in 1991.

Wim Koeleman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, has been appointed vice chairman of the foundation.

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