Iceland’s Sameinaði and Stafir pension funds have made board decisions to merge in a move that would see the formation of the country’s fourth-largest pension fund in terms of assets under management.

The pension funds said in joint statement: “The boards of the Sameinaði pension fund and the Stafir pension fund have agreed to start formal plans for a merger, with the aim of jointly putting the proposal to the vote at extraordinary general meetings in the autumn.”

They said their boards believed the merger would create a stronger organisation, with increased expertise and more robust asset and risk management.

“Merging will also contribute to a reduction of operating costs and improved services for the benefit of members,” the funds said in the joint statement.

They said the boards of both funds had decided to go ahead with this plan to merge following preliminary discussions, which began in May.

The two occupational pension funds said they would now work to confirm that actuarial assumptions exceeded their asset valuations and carry out due diligence work at both the funds.

The planned merger needs the approval of the funds, Sameinaði and Stafir said, adding that some other aspects and details of the plans would be available once this work had been completed.

Back in May, the funds started exploratory talks with trade unions on the idea of merging.

They said at the time they had addressed the matter informally but that this was the first time they had formally looked into the idea.

As things stand, Sameinaði is the fifth-largest pension fund in Iceland, based on net pension assets, while Stafir is number nine in the national ranking.

Together, the resulting joint pension fund would be country’s fourth-largest pension fund, with around ISK310bn (€2.3bn), which equates to about 10% of net assets of all Icelandic pension funds.

The Sameinaði pension fund is the result of the merger of several pension funds covering different industrial sectors and had pension assets of ISK171bn at the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, the Stafir pension fund, which covers workers in the electrical, catering and tourist sectors, had assets of around ISK141bn at the end of 2015, including those of its private pensions activities.

The Sameinaði pension fund was in the news earlier this year, when its chief executive resigned after becoming caught up in the Panama Papers scandal.