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New shareholders at MetallRente - report

GERMANY - Metallrente, the pension fund for employees in Germany’s metalworking and engineering industries, looks set to get new shareholders as part of a shake-up aimed at boosting sales.

The Financial Times Deutschland reported that owing to a poor sales performance on their part, Metallrente’s management has forced BHW and Victoria Leben to cut their stakes so that three new shareholders can be brought in.

The majority shareholder in Metallrente, launched in 2002 amid a round of reform, is German insurance giant Allianz with a 55% stake.

The other 45% stake is split between the life insurer Victoria Leben and BHW, a bank specialising in building loans.

They have been selling the Metallrente pension via their distribution networks in Germany, with Allianz Global Investors managing the assets linked to the pension.

The paper said the new shareholders were Germany’s R+V and Volksfürsorge as well as Swiss Life, adding that the 45% stake would now be split among five shareholders instead of just two.

There would be no change in Allianz’s ownership, as Metallrente’s management is pleased with the insurer’s sales performance, according to the newspaper.

Both Allianz and Heribert Karch, chief executive of Metallrente, declined to comment on the article.

Metallrente has changed the date of its annual news conference to tomorrow - from an original date of January 27.

Although the pension fund has a potential client base of as much as 1.7 million employees, sales were just under 100,000 at the end of 2003. The figures for 2004 are to be released tomorrow.

Almost 90% of Metallrente’s insured members have opted for their pension to be administered in the form of a traditional Pensionskasse, which by law may only invest 35% of the savings in equities.

Originally, Metallrente had expected that its members would choose the Pensionsfonds, created by the 2002 pension reforms, as the form of administration. Unlike a Pensionkasse, a Pensionsfonds may theoretically invest 100% of savings in equities.

But only 5% of Metallrente’s members have chosen a Pensionsfonds, while the remaining 6% have their pension administered in the form of direct insurance.

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