NETHERLANDS - Alex van der Velden, PGGM's head of responsible equity strategies, has left the €125bn asset manager together with three colleagues to start his own independent responsible equity fund.

A spokeswoman at PGGM said: "Alex wanted to significantly expand the €2.2bn portfolio and solely focus on responsible equity, whereas PGGM's scope depends on the wishes of our clients."

She said PGGM and Van der Velden had agreed to a "cooling-off period" for competition reasons until 1 November, when Van der Velden will be able to go public with his new enterprise.

She also said PGGM might consider using Van der Velden's new fund, depending on its characteristics and the wishes of the pension fund's clients.

Van der Velden was founder and head of PGGM's responsible equity team since 2008.

He was also responsible for the €200m Global Microfinance Investment Programme.

Three other members of the responsible equity team - Antoinette van Lier, François Schockaert and Otto van Buul - joined Van der Velden.

Together, they make up one-third of the team's staff, PGGM's spokeswoman said.

Van der Velden could not be contacted before the time of publication.

Meanwhile, PGGM has appointed Felix Lanters as Van der Velden's temporary successor.

Its spokeswoman said: "Felix has carried out several projects on responsible investment for us, and he is very familiar with the subject."