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DACH roundup: Austrian energy company sells pension fund

One of the few remaining company-operated pension funds in Austria has been sold to a multi-employer Pensionskasse.

EVN, a publicly listed energy and environmental services company, is transferring its occupational pension fund to €6.4bn VBV, Austria’s largest Pensionskasse.

“Deciding to sell our pension fund was a decision to place the occupational pension provision for our employees in the hands of a company, that is specialised in this area,” said Stefan Szyszkowitz, managing director of EVN. “On a day-to-day level practically nothing changes for our employees, but they are now also getting the security and lengthy experience of the largest domestic Pensionskasse.”

VBV had already been running the administration of the EVN pension fund, but with the sale the latter’s assets are being absorbed and managed by VBV.

The transaction marks the continuation of a trend that has led to the outsourcing of almost all company pension funds in Austria.

IBM, Porsche and the Austrian social insurances still have Pensionskassen, with the Bundespensionskasse – for civil servants and federal contract employees – also still operating as a company scheme.

A spokesperson for VBV also named Valida Industrie Pensionskasse, which is run by the pension group Valida, as a remaining company scheme. It is the renamed Siemens Pensionskasse, which was sold to Valida in 2012.

Founded in 1995, the EVN Pensionskasse had about €170m of assets under management as at the end of 2016, and nearly 3,300 members.

VBV Pensionskasse is one of five multi-employer pension funds in Austria, alongside Allianz, APK, Bonus, and Valida Pension. 

Germany’s Rheinland-Pfalz dissolves civil servant pension fund

The regional government for the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz has decided to dissolve the pension fund set up for civil servants.

Along with the €5bn fund the state-owned investment company PLP Management, which managed bond investments, will be unwound by the end of the year.

In the spring, a court had decided some of the investment strategies by the fund were unconstitutional.

The judges followed criticism by the opposition parties saying the fund’s investments in the province’s own bonds only shifted the debts rather than reducing them. 

After some consideration the local government decided last week that it will completely dissolve the pension fund and the investment company it had created to run the bond investments.

As in other German provinces without pension funds for state employees the pensions for civil servants in Rheinland-Pfalz will now be paid out from the annual budget.

The regional state will maintain some buffers in its budget for years with spikes in retirements, with the money earmarked for pensions but not invested.

Swiss to get vote on entire AV2020 package

Switzerland will go to the polls in September to vote on the entire Altersvorsorge 2020 (AV2020) pension reform package as opposed to just an increase in value-added tax (VAT).

A group of trade unions from western Switzerland, small parties on the left and consumer protection organisations presented nearly 60,000 signatures to the federal chancellery, which acts as a hub between the government, the administration, parliament and the public.

Only the increase in VAT for additional funding of AHV, the first pillar, has to be put to a binding referendum under Swiss law as it requires a change to the constitution.

As a result of the petition from the “No” campaign, the Swiss people will also be voting on other questions relating to the legislation underpinning the reform, a source said.

The increase in VAT must be approved by the popular vote and the cantons in order for the reform to pass. This is because it is central to funding the proposed first pillar top-up payments to compensate for cuts, and because the reform package treats the first and second pillar as a whole.

If the increase in VAT is passed in the public vote and by the cantons the other questions to be put to the public vote will also need to be passed in order for the reform to happen, according to the source.

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