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Row over PMT’s involvement in hedge funds

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NETHERLANDS - Dutch trade union FNV is demanding that PMT, the €30bn Dutch pension scheme for metalworking and mechanical engineering, withdraw its investments from Paulson, the activist hedge fund.

FNV governor Jan Berghuis, who's also employee chairman within the PMT board, wants PMT to sells its entire stake in Paulson after it appeared that Paulson and Centaurus want to want to replace the management at industrial group Stork.

Stork was one of the companies targeted by Paulson teaming up with Centaurus, another hedge fund, who want to split-up its divisions.

"The continuing efforts of the hedge fund Paulson to split Stork seriously endangers employment," said Berghuis in an interview with Dutch financial daily Financieele Dagbald this weekend.

"In earlier talks PMT tried to persuade Paulson," he added. "But now that they threaten with dismissal of the directors we act."

Earlier this month IPE reported how hedge funds have come under sustained attack in The Netherlands, when Henk van der Kolk, chairman of FNV Bondgenoten, the largest union in the market sector, accused hedge funds and private equity funds of causing considerable unrest.

"Their goal seems to be buying, splitting of companies or parts of them as quickly as possible," he says.

Stork chairman Sjoerd Vollebregt concurred, saying: "Some just go too far. They aim at creating momentum and a quick profit on market valuations."

A survey by the daily newspaper NRC showed that Dutch pension schemes have invested around €15bn in hedge funds and private equity: ABP appeared as the largest investor, with over €6bn, PMT came second with €1.12bn, and third was Shell Netherlands pension fund with about €1bn invested.

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