ALBANIA - The Albanian branch of the Raiffeisen group has bought the biggest pension provider in the market.

The American Institute of Supplementary Private Pensions of Albania, which was bought for an undisclosed sum, will be renamed Raiffeisen Pensions.

The step comes just weeks before the Albanian government is planning to pass a new law on supplementary pensions which is aimed at incentivising people to save privately and at employers to offer occupational retirement schemes.

No news is yet available, however, on the planned introduction of a second pillar. (See earlier IPE article: Albania's second pillar is as good as ready

"There is talk that the government will include the second pillar in the upcoming pension reform but we have not seen any draft laws yet," said Gentiana Gjonca, managing director of Raiffeisen Pensions.

Last year, Christian Canacaris, a board member at Raiffeisen Albania, said in an interview the company wanted to join the pension sector before the second pillar pensions regime began, and added taking over an existing company was the only option as the government had only granted three licences.

"We are currently a small company with 1,670 members and about ALL41m (€306,500) in assets under management," noted Gjonca.

"However, we have about 60% market share in the industry."

She pointed out the supplementary pension sector was "relatively young and underdeveloped" as the three licensed companies started business in 2006.

The Raiffeisen fund "will be mainly invested in government bonds and treasury bills, however alternative ways for investment will be introduced with the passing of the new law," said Gjonca..

Individuals can make voluntary contributions to Albanian pension funds but employers can also make contributions on behalf of their employees.

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