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Swiss Life chooses Holland for assets base

NETHERLANDS - Swiss Life Asset Management (SLAM) has moved a sizable chunk of its assets to the Netherlands because it claims the present legal structure for investment funds is considerably cheaper than the Luxembourg framework.

According to the company, the Dutch option of registering funds in the Netherlands is up to 0.7% cheaper than domiciling  assets in Luxembourg.

Referring to joint research with tax advisers KPMG Meijburg & Co and law firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, SLAM said "an investment of €10,000 will yield an extra return of 55%, or €5,500 during a 20-year period".

"Besides the direct financial advantage, there are also transparency benefits," Swiss Life also stressed.

SLAM has moved €2.7bn of funds - some of which are assets managed  on behalf of institutional investors - from a Swiss legal structure to a framework under Dutch law rather than selecting a Luxembourg vehicle.

One important reason for the attractiveness of the Netherlands as its funds base is the tax treaties, which allow firms to claim back part of the dividend tax, the asset manager stated.

"Moreover, the Dutch market of financial service providers is more competitive and therefore more cost-effective.

"The Dutch supervisor is more accessible, and does not require parties to bring a legal adviser during a consultation and Dutch rules do not demand the deployment of local custody services," a Swiss Life spokesman added.

Over recent years, Dutch asset managers, including pensions providers, have moved hundreds of billions of assets in funds overseas, mainly to Luxembourg and Ireland.

However, Rob Delfos, SLAM's chief executive, does not expect a large-scale return of Dutch asset managers to the Netherlands, who have placed their assets under a Luxembourg regime, because there would be a widespread impact on their organisations.

"Nevertheless, given the present discussions on costs and transparency, they should seriously consider such a move," he stressed. "Holland is an attractive base, and the customer will benefit.

Roland van den Brink, board member of the €58bn pensions provider and asset manager Mn Services, also commented: "As far as I know, the infrastructure offered in Luxembourg, rather than costs, was the main reason for the move of Dutch investment funds to Luxembourg.  It is difficult to see the Luxembourg infrastructure will lose its shine any time soon."

Swiss Life Asset Management has invested €125bn of assets worldwide, of which one-third are pension assets, and almost 10% has been invested under a Dutch legal structure.

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