NETHERLANDS - The € 2.3bn pension fund for care insurers SBZ says it is in the process of selecting a new external asset manager.

SBZ is looking for a fiduciary manager for all of its assets, of which €1.6bn is currently under its own management, chief investment officer Peter van Gemst said. "More than two parties" are still in the race, he told IPE - although he however declined to name them.

Het Financieele Dagblad, citing unnamed sources, said Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Russell are amongst the remaining candidates. Merrill Lynch-BlackRock and SEI have reportedly been removed from the shortlist in the meantime.

At present, SBZ's own investments focus on equity, fixed income and real estate within the euro zone. Global equity and fixed income have been placed with five external investors, who might loose their mandates, van Gemst made clear.

"We are still considering whether our €300m real estate portfolio should stay in-house," the CIO added. SBZ's pensions administration won't be contracted out.

According to van Gemst, the main reason for outsourcing asset management is the need to increase the spread of the portfolio to emerging markets, hedge funds, private equity and commodities, as indicated by an ALM study and an portfolio improvement survey.

At the moment, SBZ's investment portfolio consists of 47,5% fixed income, 42,5% equity and 10% real estate. The aim is to increase fixed income to 50% and to introduce the - still to be detailed - diversification into the remaining 50%, SBZ's CIO said.

He named the increased legislation and supervision of the new financial assessment framework FTK, and the relative performance of the scheme, as additional reasons to improve the investment process. SBZ's five and ten-years average returns are 3.4% and 8.1%, which is both under the benchmark.

SBZ has 40,000 participants in total, of whom 20,000 are active members, 15,000 deferred members and 5,000 pensioners. Its coverage ratio is just above 130%.