NETHERLANDS - The €2.5bn industry-wide pension fund for care insurers, SBZ has placed its asset management with ABN Amro Asset Management (AAAM) and Russell Investment Group.

AAAM will be responsible for the strategic asset allocation, and hedging of interest and currency, focusing on risk management of both the strategic investment mix and the risk profile of the investment portfolio, SBZ said.

Russell will act as a fiduciary asset manager for all SBZ's assets, except its €200m property portfolio, the scheme added.

"We need to have a discussion about the future of the real estate portfolio first," CIO Peter van Gemst explained. Of SBZ's assets, 8% and 2% has been invested in Dutch direct and indirect real estate respectively, he said.

According to SBZ, the need for further diversification, the limited size of its three-strong investment team and the new financial assessment framework contributed to its decision to contract out asset management.

An additional factor was the ‘relatively disappointing performance' of the present external asset managers, the scheme said. Van Gemst declined to give further details.

SBZ has sufficient faith in the lasting existence of AAAM and its team to conclude the deal, the CIO indicated, referring to the present take-over talks surrounding ABN Amro.

At the start of 2007, SBZ appointed Northern Trust as its new custodian, partly because of its value-added services such as performance measuring, compliance monitoring, reporting to supervisors, proxy voting and tax reclaim services.

"Moreover, Northern Trust has also experience with fiduciary mandates of other Dutch pension funds," the scheme's CIO added.

SBZ said it had been advised by Avida International and KMPG during the two-year process of preparation.