The speed of consolidation in the pensions sector is going to exceed the general assumptions, Ruud Hagendijk, the outgoing chief executive of the €110bn pensions provider MN has predicted.Speaking during a symposium organised by the metal scheme PME last week, he said it would not take five to 10 years before all pension funds with assets under €500m had disappeared.Hagendijk observed that schemes’ assets had increased tenfold to €3.5bn on average since 1997.“Back then, pension funds had 12,500 participants on average, whereas this number had risen to 42,600 in 2012, mainly following expansion through mergers and schemes joining,” he said. MN’s chief executive, who is to be succeeded by René van de Kieft on 1 May, not only attributed the consolidation trend to the need for costs saving, increased complexity and raised expertise requirements for board members.The increased exposure to supervisors as well as society also played a role, and was an important reason for trustees for whether to accept or decline a seat on the board, he suggested.In Hagendijk’s opinion, supervisor DNB had a big interest in consolidation, “as it has problems overseeing the whole pensions domain because of the diversity of views”.This issue is being reinforced by the lack of co-ordination within the pensions sector, resulting in the absence of a unilateral voice or proposed solutions. In such a situation, increased size helps establishing a common strategy and tactics to lobby politicians, he argued.Hagendijk further predicted a big interest from company schemes in the technical sector for joining a single large pension fund for the metal industry, if the €40bn PME and the €60bn PMT – currently MN’s main clients – were to merge.However, he underlined the importance of a sense of identity among the participants as well as limiting the distance between pension fund and target group. “If we don’t succeed in this, we have passed the right scale for providers,” he said.In the view of Olaf Sleijpen, DNB director for the supervision of pension funds, a merger between PME and PMT – with 540,000 workers in total – would generate benefits of scale. “Moreover, such a combination would not have to be the result of weakness.”During his last public presentation before Bert Boertje replaces him, Sleijpen reminded attendees that the dozens of company schemes vanishing annually represented no more than 0.5% of the total of Dutch pension fund participants.Also during the conference, Fieke van der Lecq, professor of pensions markets at Rotterdam’s Erasmus School of Economics, concluded that for consolidation “bigger seems to be better for the time being”.She was drawing on the outcome of studies by DNB researcher Jacob Bikker, which also suggested that no sooner than a scale of 10m participants, all benefits of scale for administration have been used.Van der Lecq added that as of assets under management of €200m, the benefits of scale would not necessarily increase, “as the investment process would become too complicated”.
By Alan BaldwinLONDON, England (Reuters) – Valtteri Bottas replaced retired Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes yesterday, with Brazilian veteran Felipe Massa coming out of retirement to take the Finn’s seat at Williams.Appearing at the factory with team boss Toto Wolff, Bottas promised to push new teammate and triple world champion Lewis Hamilton as hard as possible.“I’m sure we are going to be close and both pushing each other forward,” said the 27-year-old, who has yet to win a grand prix in four years at Williams but has appeared on the podium nine times.Wolff, who helped guide the Finn’s early career and also has close ties with Mercedes-powered Williams as a former shareholder, said Bottas would fit in well.“He’s very fast as a driver, and he shows our values,” added the Austrian, who has had an unexpectedly busy winter following Rosberg’s shock decision to quit 45 days ago, less than a week after winning his first championship.“He’s modest, humble and hard-working.”Williams had earlier announced that Massa, who left at the end of last season at the age of 35, had agreed a one-year contract to end the shortest of retirements.Mercedes have been dominant for the last three years, winning both the drivers and constructors’ titles, and will start as favourites again despite major aerodynamic rule changes.MAIN MANWhile Hamilton, 32, can expect to be the team’s main man – with many tipping the Briton to romp to a fourth title after winning 10 races in a rollercoaster 2016 – Bottas can be a genuine contender.“Now it’s time for the next level, to see how he can step up to challenge for race wins and for Championships,” Wolff said.“We know that we are already behind the curve in terms of preparations for the new season, so we’ve got a busy programme to get him integrated into the team. One thing is for sure: as I know Valtteri, he will give it everything.”Massa, a former race winner with Ferrari and 2008 world championship runner-up, will partner 18-year-old Canadian rookie Lance Stroll at Williams.“I always intended to race somewhere in 2017, but Williams is a team close to my heart and I have respect for everything it is trying to achieve,” said the Brazilian, who made a tearful farewell to his home crowd last November.“I certainly have not lost any of my enthusiasm for racing and I’m extremely motivated to be coming back to drive the FW40.”Sauber earlier set the day’s merry-go-round in motion by announcing that German driver Pascal Wehrlein, who was the Mercedes reserve and Bottas’ main rival to replace Rosberg, would race for them this year.Wehrlein, 22, drove for struggling Manor as a rookie last year but Mercedes felt they needed a more experienced replacement.Bottas’ arrival means Mercedes will have no German driver in their line-up for the first time since the German carmaker bought the former Brawn GP team at the end of 2009 and returned as a constructor.Rosberg was partnered by seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher until Hamilton arrived in 2013.Mercedes said Rosberg had accepted an ambassadorial role with the team for 2017, with his first commitment an appearance with Hamilton on Tuesday for watch sponsor IWC Schaffhausen.The day’s announcements left tail-enders Manor, who are in administration and seeking a rescuer, as the only team with any potential driver vacancies for the season starting in Australia on March 26.
Seven newcomers have been named in Jamaica’s netball squad to face Barbados in a three-Test series from May 19-22.Coach Jermaine Allison McCracken named Shimona Nelson, Mellisa Wright, Antoinette Stone, Zonasha Hinds, Tashike Salmon, Jodiann Ward and Latanya Wilson to the 15-member squad.Missing are top players Romelda Aiken, Jhanielle Fowler Reid and Malysha Kelly. They are playing in professional leagues in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.The newcomers were named less than two weeks after senior players Khadijah Williams, Shanice Beckford and Nicole Dixon were suspended from the national program. There is some experience in shooter Thristina Harwood, and defenders Shamera Sterling and Stacian Facey.The squad: Shooters —- Thristina Harwood, Rebecca Robinson, Shimona Nelson, Hasana Williams and Carlalee Tinglin. Centre Court —- AdeanThomas, Kerry-Ann Brown, Melissa Wright, Antoinette Stone and Zonasha Hinds. Defenders —- Shamera Sterling, Stacian Facey, Tashike Salmon, Jodiann Ward and Latanya Wilson.