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Unilever CIO quits over asset pooling plan

NETHERLANDS - Walther Schapendonk, chief investment officer at Progress, the pension fund of consumer goods giant Unilever, is leaving amid a plan to pool the scheme’s equity assets.

“There are plans at Unilever to pool all of our investments in equities,” a Unilever spokesman said. “If this is given the go ahead, the job of CIO will change.

“Schapendonk has drawn his own conclusions from this, and has decided he wants to do something different.” Some 60% of the E3bn fund is invested in equities.

Unilever said it was not yet clear when exactly Schapendonk would leave the fund. He is currently looking for new employment.

In November last year professional services firm Deloitte said it was working with Unilever on implementing pooling in practice.

Deloitte said multinational businesses could save millions of euros with the establishment of a single pooled vehicle.

Meanwhile, Patrick Groenendijk, strategist at the E14bn Dutch metal workers’ pension fund Metalektro, is leaving the industry-wide fund on March 1 to work for Barclays Global Investors.

Groenendijk had been with PME for three years. “We have mixed feelings about his departure, but we also realise this is all part of the game. If the market is interested in employing one of our people, it means we employ good people,” a Metalektro spokesman said. He added it was not yet clear who would succeed Groenendijk.

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