GERMANY - MetallRente, a pension fund targeted at Germany's engineering industry, now has an 8% share of the total deferred compensation scheme market because it has insured 226,000 employees at 11,700 firms since its launch.

Summing up its performance over the last five years, MetallRente also said it sold 33,000 new pensions in the first seven months of 2007 - three times the figure for the same period in 2006 and despite what was a weak market for corporate pensions.

Contributions to the scheme rose €25.7m between January and July 2007 to more than €1bn.

"In the shortest of times, our engineering pension fund has not only reached critical mass, but become one of the industry standards in Germany," claimed Heribert Karch, MetallRente's chief executive.

Yet with 226,000 insured employees to date, MetallRente still has some way to go to reach its total market potential of 1.5m members.

The scheme offers three types of pensions vehicle to its insured: the insurance-type Direktversicherung and Pensionskasse as well as a Pensionsfonds, an equity-oriented vehicle.

MetallRente did not provide updated performance figures for all three vehicles but in 2006, returns for the two insurance-type vehicles were around 4% - above the 2.25% minimum guarantee. The 2006 return for MetallRente's Pensionsfonds, meanwhile, was 11.1%, though that vehicle provides no guarantee.

Karch said the number of German employees with a corporate pension had increased to 65% currently from 52% at the end of 2001, thanks in part to the creation of sector-focussed schemes like MetallRente.

The year 2002 also saw the creation of Chemie Pensionsfonds, a scheme targeted exclusively to Germany's chemical sector. Operated by German bank HVB, the scheme has since won over 25,000 employees with its pension - representing 12.5% of its total market potential.

In separate news, the German pensions ministry reported 600,000 new contracts for the ‘Riester-Rente', a government-subsidised private pension, were sold during the second quarter of 2007. A total of 9.1m Riester pensions have been sold since since the vehicle's launch in 2002.