PGGM, the €183bn Dutch asset manager, is to become the first pensions provider in the Netherlands to launch an APF, or ‘general pension fund’. 

At the vehicle’s launch earlier this week, PGGM said the nature of the “non-profit Co-operative” would help keep the APF’s cost “as low as possible”.

It also expects the general pension fund, dubbed Volo, to benefit from the asset manager’s scale and expertise.

To date, general pension funds have been launched almost exclusively by insurers, with Unilever being the only company to set up an APF for its two pension funds.

PGGM spokesman Wout Dekker said Volo would aim to target smaller pension funds, although he conceded the asset manager had not yet decided how it would define this group.

“Because the APF is a new phenomenon, we need to wait and see how things develop,” he said.

Dekker declined to comment on possible clients, saying only that PGGM was in talks with “several players”, and that discussions were at various stages.

Nor was he able to specify Volo’s target scale.

“We know the market, however, and we are certain there will be sufficient demand,” he said. 

Erik Goris, director of strategic pensions development at PGGM, emphasised that Volo would offer “flexibility” to anticipate new developments in pensions products, as well as in the “further liberalising” pensions market.

PGGM – asset manager for the €165bn healthcare pension fund PFZW – applied for a licence with regulator De Nederlandsche Bank in early March.

It expects a decision in approximately six weeks’ time.

Insurers Centraal Beheer, Delta Lloyd and ASR have said they plan to launch a general pension fund.

Aegon and NN Investment Partners have also announced plans for an APF, to be operated in co-operation with Aegon subsidiary TKP and AZL, another member of NN Group, respectively.

DNB has not yet issued any licence for an APF.