NETHERLANDS - Pure play asset manager Robeco plans to increase its focus on the pensions industry from approximately 50% of current institutional investor business to 60% within the next five years, but will scale back its attention on UK and Italian business.

The Rotterdam-based firm intends to reach its target by developing strategies and products on responsible investment, inflation-linked products as well as through food and agricultural funds for the institutional market, the firm said in its strategic action plan for the period 2010-2014.

In order to reach its 2014 target and double the firm's current 8% share of the institutional market, the asset manager will combine its activities and expertise on pensions under a new business unit called Robeco Pension Solutions. The company already offers pensions insurance, pensions investments and infrastructure, but not as an integrated approach.

The asset manager also said it will "put all its cards" on the large European countries, such as Germany, France and Spain - as a hub to Latin America - as well as Switzerland, but Munsters said its activities in the UK and Italy are likely to be scaled back "as these markets are very competitive".

Robeco is aiming to build autonomous growth of assets under management from €135bn at present to €225bn. The asset manager saw a 22% increase in assets last year.

It will also develop pension and investment solutions for the defined contribution market, as well as develop manager selection, lifecycle products and fiduciary management, according to Roderick Munsters, CEO at the asset management house.

As part of its refocusing on the pensions industry, Robeco intends to play a part in the creation of the cross-border pensions vehicle API, which is designed to lure the pension management of multinational companies to the Netherlands, said Munsters.

The company also intends to market its research expertise and quants products for computer-guided investing, to help clients adopt Munsters describes as "clever benchmarks".

Robeco's CEO said there would be closer co-operation with parent company Rabobank  "because of its reputation and its worldwide network, as well its expertise on food and agri business, which will be one of the largest investment themes in the coming decades".

Munsters noted the introduction of ESG principles into Robeco's entire portfolio - announced last year - has been largely implemented.

Robeco reported 73% of its assets under management beat their benchmarks last year, while 89% of equity investments outperformed before the deduction of costs. Most fixed income products also delivered positive absolute returns, and 46% of the invested assets outperformed their benchmark.

Yet the Rotterdam-based pure play asset manager reported a net loss of €11m over 2009, for the first time in its 80-years history, which it largely attributed to lower performance fees.

Robeco said it has already shed 260 jobs in its drive to deliver a €78m yearly cost reduction, and is aiming to achieve cost cuts worth €75m a year by 2014.

In addition, it has slashed its bonuses by 30-40% compared to the 2008 level, the firm added.

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