Top staff leave as e628m Dutch fund closes

NETHERLANDS – Senior staff at Rijswijk-based building group HBG’s pension fund will next month leave for new jobs in the Dutch pensions industry.

The moves follow the closure of the e628m scheme earlier this year and the subsequent transfer of the fund’s assets to an insurance contract with Swiss Life.

Jos van Kleef, director of the HBG pension fund, becomes director of the new combination pension fund for the Royal Bann group, whose headquarters near Utrecht will become the official site of the HBG pension operations.

And Mark Burbach, a fund manager with HBG, transfers to become a dual investment manager for both the TNO pension fund and the PBOD (PBO-Dienstverlening) pension fund, both in the same current headquarters of HBG in Rijswijk.

The HBG fund was one of six Dutch schemes that built and moved into the same office building near The Hague, with the aim of collaborating on administration and IT systems and eventually looking at the possibilities for shared investment management and custody.

However, following a series of takeover deals involving the buy-out of HBG’s (Hollandsche Beton Groep) parent group by Spanish building corporations Dragados and then ACS, the company’s pension fund board began looking at a separation of the firm’s retirement commitments from the corporation itself.

The position was compounded by a solvency ratio that had fallen below 100%, according to Burbach. “The question of how to preserve the rights of the employees became more acute and the board decided to go down the insurance route to preserve the employees’ pension rights.”

HBG finally selected Swiss Life to cover the accrued pension rights for employees up to December 31 2002 and closed the plan to new members. This meant a transfer of assets from Merrill Lynch, who had run a European equities portfolio, Vanguard with a European benchmark portfolio in Europe and the US, and Fisher Francis Trees and Watts who had been managing a European fixed income mandate for the fund.

All new pension rights for employees within HBG are being built up within SFB – the industry-wide fund for building workers.

Of the 11 former staff of the HBG pension fund, five will be leaving the fund as a result of the scheme closure.

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