Peter Borgdorff, PFZWPFZW’s funding level fell to 100.9% despite its strong return. Peter Borgdorff, its director, said the threat of cuts had never been greater. The healthcare scheme’s funding level must reach at least 104.3% by the end of next year in order to avoid rights cuts in 2021.Interest rates had never been lower in PFZW’s 50-year history, Borgdorff said, meaning the Netherlands’ current pension arrangements and regulation were no longer effective.Eric Uijen, executive chair of PME, said that he could not satisfactorily explain any cuts to his members if implemented in 2020.“We are on the eve of a new pensions agreement… we are achieving good returns and we have more assets than ever,” he said. The €61bn sector scheme for the building sector (BpfBouw) generated 8.1%, while the metal pension funds PMT (€77bn) and PME (€50bn) delivered 7.5% and 7.8%, respectively.Dutch pension funds post strong Q1 returnsChart MakerEquity markets add double-digit returnsABP chiefly attributed its 14.2% profit from equity investments to the prospect of a trade deal between the US and China, as well as the fact that both the ECB and the US Federal Reserve had refrained from raising interest rates so far this year.Developed market equity investments gained 14.3%, while emerging markets added 13.9%.BpfBouw reported a 13.9% gain on its entire equity holdings, while PFZW returned 11.5%. The five largest Dutch pension funds reported returns of up to 8.5% during the first three months of this year.They credited strong equity markets for their “above average” results, as well as rising government bond prices.The pension funds posted positive results across almost their entire investment portfolios, in stark contrast to the weak returns reported for 2018.Civil service scheme ABP and healthcare pension fund PFZW posted quarterly results of 8.2% and 8.5%, respectively, and saw their assets increase to €431bn and €217bn, respectively. “I cannot explain to our participants and pensioners if we have to reduce pensions in 2020, while… we are achieving good returns and have more assets than ever”Eric Uijen, PMEPrivate equity delivered quarterly profits of 3% for ABP and 1.5% for PFZW. Infrastructure holdings at both schemes added 2.9% and 0.1%, respectively.ABP said its hedge fund allocation gained 1.6%, while PFZW indicated that its mortgages portfolio had produced a 1.3% profit.Fixed income and real assetsFalling interest rates meant schemes’ fixed income allocations also generated above-average results.ABP posted an overall gain of 3.9%, with long-duration government bonds and emerging market debt delivering 5.4% and 6.6%, respectively.PFZW reported returns of 1.7%, including a 3.3% gain from government bonds. However, inflation-linked bonds lost 19.4%.Schemes’ quarterly profits on property ranged from 0.8% (PME) to 10.4% (ABP).BpfBouw’s property portfolio gained 4.8%, with Dutch offices and North American real estate particularly strong.Commodities was the best performing asset class for PFZW and ABP, delivering profits of 24.2% and 15.8%, respectively.ABP lost 0.1% on its combined hedge of interest rate, currency and inflation risks.BpfBouw lost 0.6% on its currency hedge as a consequence of the euro appreciating relative to the US dollar, but it gained 1.9% from its interest rate hedge. PFZW said it made a 2.4% profit on its combined interest rate and currency cover.Schemes gloomier about looming rights cutsDespite the healthy quarterly returns, four of the five largest pension funds warned that the likelihood of future cuts to pension rights and benefits had increased.ABP, PFZW, PMT and PME said their relevant funding levels had dropped by up to 1.4%, falling several percentage points short of the required minimum of 104.3%. Metal industry schemes PME and PMT face benefit cuts at the end of this yearHowever, PME, which serves the metal and electro-technical engineering sector, closed the first quarter with a coverage ratio of 100.6%. This has to improve to 104.3% by the end of 2019, as does the funding level of its sister metal and engineering sector scheme PMT, which recorded a 101.7% coverage ratio at the end of March.PMT said implementing pension cuts despite a coverage ratio of more than 100% was a “bad idea”. It demanded at least a temporary solution to avoid benefit reductions.Corien Wortmann-Kool, chair of ABP, highlighted that the chance of a reduction of pension payments in 2021 was still real. ABP’s funding stood at 102.4% at the end of March.BpfBouw, the sector scheme for the building industry, is the only one of the Netherlands’ top five schemes without concerns about benefit cuts: despite a 0.8% funding drop, its coverage ratio stood at 117.5% at the end of the first quarter.
The Stretford End love watching FernandesFernandes lifts Man Utd as Wolves, Arsenal winLondon, United Kingdom | AFP | Manchester United moved onto the shoulder of fourth-placed Chelsea on Sunday after brushing aside lowly Watford as Wolves and Arsenal also staked their claims for Champions League football next season.With runaway leaders Liverpool looking certain to win the Premier League, attention has switched to the race for European places, with just 10 points separating fourth-placed Chelsea from Southampton, in 12th spot.New signing Bruno Fernandes opened his goalscoring account for United at Old Trafford from the penalty spot before impressive second-half goals from Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood sealed a 3-0 win.It means United, who have struggled to find consistency all season, are now in fifth place on 41 points, just three adrift of Chelsea.United paid tribute to the late Harry Gregg, hero of the 1958 Munich air disaster, before kick-off at Old Trafford, where Fernandes calmed the nerves in a superb individual display.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised his new signing, who picked up the man-of-the-match award for his display against Watford, languishing second from bottom of the table.“He has done fantastic,” said the Norwegian boss. “He has given everyone a boost. He wants the ball all the time, he wants to conduct the play.“I am very pleased for him. He has done something to the crowd. He shows the attributes of a Manchester United player. He is a great addition to the squad.”Portugal midfielder Fernandes is under no illusions over his task as United look to return to the lucrative Champions League after a season away.“Everyone knows we want to get into the Champions League places. I am here to help the team conquer this place and keep winning games,” he told the BBC.Wolves, in eighth place, are just two points behind United after a convincing 3-0 win against bottom-club Norwich at Molineux.Diogo Jota scored twice and Raul Jimenez poached his 21st of the campaign early in the second period to leave Norwich seven points adrift of safety and looking doomed.Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo said his side had managed the game well. When asked about challenging for a Champions League spot, he said: “We’re going to stay focused because the difficulty is to sustain your performances through the season.“After that, we’ll see, but it’s about building your team and getting them ready to compete whenever, wherever.”– Arsenal comeback –In the day’s late kick-off, Arsenal recovered from a terrible start to hand Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton their first Premier League defeat since New Year’s Day.Dominic Calvert-Lewin finished acrobatically after Arsenal failed to deal with a free-kick in the first minute.Arsenal were level in the 27th minute when Eddie Nketiah finished expertly past Jordan Pickford from Bukayo Saka’s cross and six minutes later they were ahead when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang raced clear and finished coolly.Everton equalised in first-half stoppage time when Richarlison got the faintest of touches to a header from Yerry Mina to poke past Bernd Leno but Arsenal retook the lead when Aubameyang scored his second moments after the re-start.Arsenal survived a late scare to climb to ninth in the table, two points behind Wolves.As it stands, fifth place could be enough to earn a Champions League spot because second-placed Manchester City have been banned from Europe’s elite competition for two seasons, pending an appeal.On Saturday, Chelsea strengthened their grip on a top-four place by beating London rivals Tottenham 2-1 on a day overshadowed by controversial VAR decisions.Officials ruled that Spurs midfielder Giovani Lo Celso did not deserve to be sent off for a stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta that Chelsea boss Frank Lampard called a “leg breaker”.There were also incidents involving the technology in Bournemouth’s defeat at Burnley and Manchester City’s win at Leicester.Elsewhere, there were wins for Crystal Palace and Southampton while high-flying Sheffield United drew 1-1 with Brighton.Share on: WhatsApp read more