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Pension funds for bakers, confectioners look to mix things up

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Bakkers, the €3bn industry-wide pension fund for the Dutch bakery sector, and Zoetwaren, the €1.7bn scheme for confectioners, are investigating a possible cooperation that could culminate in a full merger. 

Speaking with FD Pensioen Pro – the new partner of IPE sister publication IPNederland – Jacques van de Vall, the employers’ chairman at Bakkers, said the pension funds had set up a joint committee to look into options for “symbiosis between the schemes”.

The committee would investigate how sharing an actuary and an accountant, and having a joint pensions bureau or joint communications, could drive down costs, said Van de Vall.

He confirmed that a full merger was also an option.

“It might help us to reduce costs by 25%,” he said. “If some small company schemes were to join us, our combined assets would be €5bn.

“This would reduce costs for pensions provision, actuaries and supervision, and also improve the quality of governance.”

In his opinion, there is an overlap in the sectors served by both pension funds.

“Among the participants of Bakkers are industrial bakers and traditional pastry cooks, whereas Zoetwaren also accommodates industrial pastry cooks,” he said.

Leonne Jansen, chairman at Zoetwaren, said: “Bakkers is the most logical partner for us. The participants have similar jobs, education and background.”

But she stressed that a merger would be a “second choice”.

“Firstly, we want to investigate a cooperation,” she said. “Our predecessors, the pension funds Cake (Koek) and Candy (Snoep), also had a joint investment committee for years.”

Zoetwaren is the product of a merger of the industry-wide schemes for confectioners and chocolatiers (Snoep) and the sugar-processing sector (Koek) in 2011.

Jansen said: “We thought we had become quite a large scheme then, but, a couple of years on, we are among the small ones again.”

She conceded that a merger would probably the most efficient solution in the end.

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