NETHERLANDS - Guus Wouters, former Syntrus Achmea chief executive, is to replace Bert van de Belt as director of the €34bn pension fund for metalworking and mechanical engineering (PMT).

Wouters will succeed Van de Belt, who - at the age of 59 - will be taking early retirement after seven years at the helm. Wouters was known for several mergers and integration processes at Detam Pension Services, Relan Pension Management and Interpolis Pensions, when he was director at the firms.

Wouters, 57, has also been director of the Dutch Care Federation (NZf), and is currently chairman of the foundation for pension education SPO, as well as being a member of the supervisory board of the college for pension lawyers at Amsterdam University.

In 2006, Rabobank subsidiary Interpolis Pensions and insurer PVF Achmea merged into Syntrus Achmea under the supervision of Wouters, who continued as CEO and director pension management of the new company.

As Syntrus Achmea's CEO, Wouters was involved in the failed merger talks with PMT's pension provider and asset manager MN Services.

In February 2009, Wouters carried on as strategy director at Syntrus Achmea, after he was replaced by Hans Snijders as CEO. He left the company at the beginning of 2010.

Van de Belt indicated that he had already decided some years ago to leave at this moment. "For some time I had felt the need to scale back my activities, but also realised that this job can't be carried out on a part-time base," he told IPE. That said, the outgoing PMT head added that he was considering taking up part-time supervisory and advisory roles in the future.

Van de Belt has played an instrumental role in establishing PMT's independent pension provider MN Services. He was also closely involved in setting up new pension arrangements, lifting the professional level of PMT's management bureau and shaping the scheme's governance.

In Van den Belt's opinion, an important challenge for his successor will be the implementation of new pension arrangements, following the current discussions between the social partners of employers and employees, "which will definitely lead to changes in the pension system".

Wouters also needs to continue the extensive communication with PMT's participants and pensioners to keep a social basis for pension funds, the outgoing director said.

Wouters was not available for a comment.