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IPE.com: Shell may pool international pension assets

IPE.com 8/Jun/06: NETHERLANDS – Oil giant Shell is looking at pooling the assets of some of its main international pension funds under the Netherlands’ new tax-transparent asset pooling vehicle ‘Fonds voor Gemene Rekening’.

“Holland is for us the preferred place of choice for combining our pension assets,” the Dutch daily Het Financieele Dagblad quoted Peter Wit, operational and financial director of Shell Asset Management Company, Samco, as saying.

“The Finance Ministry has woken up after the exodus of investment funds, and is on the right track in offering the opportunity for asset pooling of pension funds, which are already being offered by Luxembourg and Ireland,” Wit said.

Samco has managed the assets of several Shell pension funds from Holland since last year, and is in the process of moving a dozen of its largest European funds – with combined assets of €40bn – to Rijswijk.

But the investment has been done separately for each scheme, Wit indicated.

One of the disadvantages however, is that the smaller schemes can’t spread their investments optimally.

“Putting all the assets into one Dutch investment company, would provide of the advantages of scale, but the tax advantages for the Shell schemes in their respective countries could very well disappear,” Wit explained.

“By setting up a transparent vehicle in consultation with the fiscal authorities, we expect the tax advantages to remain.”

“At the moment, we are researching the possibilities of pooling our international pension assets. A decision to go ahead with the plan will probably be taken next year,” Wit told IPE.

“We are looking at our larger pension funds, which are mainly based in Europe. Although Shell group has about 160 pension funds worldwide, many are so small that managing their assets locally is a better option.”

By Leen Preesman

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