NETHERLANDS – Schootse Poort, the manager of Koninklijke Philips Electronics’ 12.5 billion euros in pension assets, has said it will not acquire more third-party clients following a strategic review.
Eindhoven-based Schootse Poort, which was founded in the early 1990s as Philips restructured and sold parts of its business but kept the pension funds in-house, changed its name to Philips Pensions Competence Center on June 1. Although half its 15 clients are from third parties, the majority of its 15 billion euros in assets are managed for Philips.
A spokesman for Philips said: “Schootse Poort suggests a major focus on external firms but the focus is Philips. We had originally thought Philips would be less important but the reality last year showed the focus was still Philips.
“The name_change does not mean anything for the management of the third parties’ portfolios but we will not acquire new clients because there is a limited amount of time to service clients and we must invest it in the most important client, which is Philips.”
It is unclear if Schootse Poort’s existing third-party clients, such as Atos Origin, Bois, Kininklijke Cosun, Heineken and Siemens, will remain with their investment manager. Lucent Technologies replaced Schootse Poort as its pension fund manager in the last 12 months.
The change in Schootse Poort’s strategy followed a renewed focus by Philips’ board on pension risks to its balance sheet. Earlier this year the Dutch electronics giant predicted a 1.2 billion-euro cut in benefit obligations – as well as ongoing savings – as a result of a shift to average-salary pensions agreed earlier this year.
Philips reached an agreement in principle with Dutch trade unions on January 30 - which was ratified by the union and the trustees of the Philips Pension Fund on March 31.
After the strategic review, Schootse Poort is to take more responsibility for managing Philips’ 15 pension fund around the world, the spokesman said. Previous, Philips had been surprised by unexpected cash flows into these pension funds as the local funds have had control over choice of investment manager, actuary and strategy.
The spokesman denied the change had anything to do with the Staatsen review, which had scrutinised the commercial activities of Dutch pension funds and recommended curbs to its external activities.