Strategy & policy

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Strategy & policy

Why do we invest? What are the returns like? For whom do we invest? And what have we set out to achieve several years from now? These are the questions we will answer here. 

Long-term investment
Collection Contents
23 Publications

Entrepreneurial platform calls CEO APG “role model” for inclusive leadership

Published on: 26 April 2022

APG board chair Annette Mosman is among the 30 most inclusive leaders of 2022. So says MT/Sprout, a platform focused on entrepreneurship and leadership. The “Inclusive30” is a list of thirty people “who make a proven contribution to inclusion and diversity in the Dutch business community.”

Leaders who make a difference by setting a good example, making concrete progress and actively spreading the importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I). That is what MT/Sprout set out to find for the Inclusive30.

Tackling inequality

The platform calls APG “an organization that is setting an example by eradicating gender pay inequality in the same positions.” Mosman appears to have come into the picture for the Inclusive30 in part because, having closed the pay gap in one fell swoop in 2019, APG is now tackling inequality structurally. To do so, the company has been looking into the causes of the career paths among women being less steep on average. At APG, there is still work to be done; mainly in the management layer immediately below the board of directors. At that level, women make up 26 percent of the total number of managers. At the board level (50 percent women) and in the supervisory board (60 percent women), APG already has the appropriate ratio.


MT/Sprout notes that things are going in the right direction at the supervisory board level in the Dutch business community. But less progress has been made at the executive board level - certainly where unlisted companies are concerned.


That progress is achieved by embracing differences, among other things, Mosman says. “Diversity and inclusion are great; they enrich you and your organization. Start small, then you will ultimately achieve big changes. And thirdly: create policy, but most of all, be inclusive in the day-to-day contact.”


“Crystal clear”

There is no lack of “attention” for diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the Netherlands. In the business world you won’t easily find people who are against it, at least not openly. Even according to MT/Sprout, the “usefulness and necessity of inclusiveness are crystal clear”. And in the same breath, they add that achieving tangible progress is “another matter”. All the more reason to use it as a criterion for the Inclusive30.  

Volgende publicatie:
“We are going to look even more selectively at the companies in which we invest”

“We are going to look even more selectively at the companies in which we invest”

Published on: 31 March 2022

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, 2021 was a year of excellent investment returns. “Good for our funds, good for the participant”, says Ronald Wuijster, member of the Executive Board of APG and responsible for Asset Management. And how does the CEO view 2022? “Investing is always uncertain. It's just a matter of keeping your professional calm.”

​​​​​​​Looking back on 2021, Ronald Wuijster says: “It was a rather crazy year. At least in the context of Corona. When it comes to investments, we can look back on a very good year with excellent returns. Both in absolute and relative terms. The absolute return is obviously mainly used to pay the pensions. Eighty percent of the pension payment is realized by the returns we achieve. But thanks to the good relative returns, we were also able to add additional value. Moreover, we managed to make a number of truly great investments, such as the large investment on behalf of ABP in the accelerated rollout of fiberglass.”

Did those good results not come as a surprise given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic?“We had a fear for a while in the previous year: will Covid-19 have a major impact on the economy and the companies in which we invest? In 2020 we witnessed that the impact was less than expected, if not absent. Sectors were affected that remained below the investment horizon, such as the SMEs, the somewhat smaller companies. And furthermore, a number of specific sectors were hit, such as the entertainment industry and tourism. But a larger number of sectors, such as tech, service provision, luxury consumer goods and the construction industry actually benefited. This because people transitioned to a different way of working, because the spending patterns changed. The money had to go somewhere as people couldn't go to festivals or on holidays.”

According to Wuijster, the investment markets prospered as a result of both monetary and fiscal measures.
“Monetary speaking, we were already in an environment with very low interest rates and asset purchases by the central banks that were continued for a longer period of time due to COVID-19 as the central banks wanted to prevent the economy from deteriorating. And those measures were reflected in the investments. We saw much needed asset purchases, but some of these were somewhat unfocused. The American government, for example, transferred more than 3,000 dollars to virtually all citizens. Many people really needed that money but there were also plenty of people thinking: Hey, I am going to invest that money. Both monetary and fiscally driven there appeared to be more support for the investment markets. And that's an important incentive for good investment results.”

The inflation rate is meanwhile skyrocketing. What is the effect of those figures on the returns?
“That depends. Inflation is not really a bad thing for a number of investment categories. Shares, commodities have elements incorporated that offer protection against inflation. But it does have an impact on the economy. The big question is whether or not we will end up in a recession. The opinions are mixed in that respect, almost fifty-fifty you might say. The logic is: the purchasing power decreases; the world is a little less global than it was before. That is of course also caused by the war in Ukraine and by Corona, which are both not stimulating a worldwide economy. The overall picture is that the recovery after COVID-19 is fading a bit. People will enjoy it for a while. But some economists expect this to subside. It's possible, I think it's a bit of touch and go.”

What does that insecurity mean to the investments?
Investing always entails a factor of insecurity. I would almost say: it is business as usual. We have a well-diversified, widely spread portfolio. Some investments benefit, others suffer, but on balance you are trying to achieve reasonable returns. And we are doing quite well so far. The returns are obviously less than last year. We have suffered some losses in absolute amounts. But it's really not that bad when you look at it in percentages. It sometimes involves large amounts but it's not very shocking given the events. In  short: keep the professional calm and continue to do your job. What are the things that might change following these developments and are we able to anticipate? So, we could be partly positioning ourselves for the future already.”

But how? Can you give some examples?
“In general terms: you look at the global regional circumstances in the current context. Has Europe not become a bit more vulnerable? What is the role of China in this conflict? Is China benefiting or is it not?  You can also look at certain sectors, like commodities for instance. Those were ignored for a long time because the energy prices declined over a longer period of time. But now you can obviously see these generating returns.”

Europe has become more vulnerable in more ways than one. Investing in weapons suddenly seems to be socially acceptable.
“You could say beforehand that this is not a good investment if sustainability is highly prioritized. At the same time we have always said that the defensive use of weapons is relevant. This has now proven to be true. We have always excluded a certain type of weapons from our investment policy, like cluster weapons and chemical weapons. But it is possible to invest in regular weapons. Some peers are saying that it is sustainable. Those views are currently emerging in Scandinavia. There people say it could be considered a positive social value. I believe that's nonsense. But as a result of the recent developments, the position of certain weapons manufacturers has changed given the countries’ intention to invest.”


A noteworthy news item in 2021 was ABP's announcement to withdraw from producers of fossil fuels. Did that lead to a different view of APG on the engagement policy?“That is a legitimate question. It just seems weird to me that the public opinion is often only targeting Shell. Because ABP didn't announce its withdrawal from just Shell, but from producers of fossil fuels. That involves a lot more companies.”
But that link with the engagement policy is correct, says Wuijster. “The question was: shouldn't you draw conclusions from the fact that all of those discussions are yielding less than actually desired? It has resulted in us looking once again at the consequence management of our policy. ABP believed too little was accomplished in our conversations with companies about fossil fuels in the past years. They said: we don't think there is enough time to reach the climate goals this way. So, we withdraw and refrain from continuing the conversations.
We have supported that decision. We agreed that time was running out. Engagement on the demand side is more effective than engagement on the supply side. The user is able to change quicker and easier than the producer.”

And does this also mean that the full width of the portfolio has to be looked at in a stricter manner?
“Yes, we must be stricter and more rigorous. Even stricter and more rigorous than we are now. We are rethinking the inclusion policy: what companies are to be included? And we also look at the criteria. There are frontrunners, promises and laggards. You don't want to invest in laggards unless they are willing to change. Then these companies become the promises in which you could invest if there's a chance of engagement success. We have done so for a long time, but we have to be more selective. It shouldn't be an excuse to keep investing in something, knowing beforehand that nothing will change. And we also look at the frontrunners again: shouldn't the criteria be stricter? However, we are still scoring very well in terms of our sustainability policy, the professional world especially considers us a leader.”

I am more concerned about non-nuance than about impatience

To what extent is such process guided by societal impatience?
“I am more concerned about non-nuance than about impatience. Mainly when it comes to biodiversity and climate you cannot say we have plenty of time and that society just has to wait. We simply don't have that time. What I do have something of a problem with sometimes is non-nuance. Objectifying an opinion by means of metrics, taxonomies and reasonable analysis is very important to me. The societal debate doesn't always offer room to do so. If one party picks one element and calls it ‘bad, bad, bad’, the room for objective assessment is sometimes lacking. Indicate why something is bad, why an alternative is better. I care a lot about continuing to be able to practice the investment trade in a professional manner. And it sometimes concerns me that this voice is not always heard.”

The costs of the investments are criticized every year. Do you understand that?
“I can imagine that people are looking at the costs. If large amounts are invested, it also entails high costs. But people shouldn't just focus on an absolute number. And the costs should be compared with the - luckily even higher – amounts we realized in terms of net returns. On average between 7 and 8 percent annually in the past twenty years. And that's with the costs deducted. Those are huge amounts in euros as well, compared to which the costs are far outweighed. I understand people are concerned. But are the costs excessive? No, because we outperform the market. We make investment returns in a relatively cheap way. So yes, it involves huge amounts, yes, we handle the costs carefully and yes, we are a relatively low-cost producer.”

APG achieves good returns year in, year out. Nevertheless, the participant hasn't witnessed an indexation in years. It continues to be difficult to explain.
“I can very well understand that call of seeing such high investment results and no change in the payments. And it actually is quite difficult to explain. It is one of the reasons why the pressure became so much greater to build that new system. The link in the new system is way more direct. That is an advantage. The downside of the new system of course is that the consequences are visible immediately should the results be disappointing. People were not indexed in the old system, but at least their entitlements stayed on course.
And another thing to consider in a pension system is that it involves different age groups whose interests are slightly different. Indexation relevant for a certain group - the pensioners - should be balanced against the fact that this money also could have been used to gain returns for people who are still accruing pension. The management of a pension fund always stands for that balanced weighing up of interests. Indexation is only one component, so a one-sided fixation on that element is not desired. But I do understand that people are disappointed when the many years of good investment results - which is sometimes bragged about, justifiably or not - are not reflected in their payments.”

You recently wrote a column about investing in infrastructure. You would like to see more possibilities in this field in the Netherlands for a large pension investor. Can you explain that some more?
It was an appeal to the government to take another look at the objections around public-private collaboration in the field of infrastructure. I wonder if those objections are justified. I believe that, in general, the guidance of investments becomes better in a public-private collaboration. That's because you shift from thinking in budgets to return in the longer term. The statement made by the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis was whether all of that money the government lends free of charge is actually a responsible thing to do. According to economists of the Rabobank, it depends on whether or not it is profitable. That's how I see it as well. If it is considered an investment for future generations, it isn't so wrong. The objection that, as a government, you don't want to give up control of crucial infrastructural projects can be properly safeguarded. There are constructions in place to make that happen. That can be witnessed regularly in countries such as Canada and Australia. There are different ways to ensure a casting vote around the social relevance of the infrastructure, while fully sharing the economic benefits. It is my opinion that this should be done more often. It is not happening enough in the Netherlands.”

Finally. You have signed up for another four years. What is the most important reason for you to do so?
​​​​​​​“Apart from the fact that I am working in one or actually in two very nice teams, I find it an enormous challenge to transfer our clients to the new system. That has to be done in the next four years and I consider that a major responsibility. In addition: being able to invest on a global scale like we do in all asset classes, is just amazing. Moreover, it's extremely relevant socially speaking. It involves people whose pension is depending on our returns. And that's all that matters.” 

Volgende publicatie:
ABP and bpfBouw sell all investments in Russia

ABP and bpfBouw sell all investments in Russia

Published on: 3 March 2022

Investments of both funds already amounted to less than 0.1 percent of total invested assets

ABP and bpfBouw, APG’s largest clients, have decided to sell all their Russian investments. This makes them the first Dutch pension funds to do so in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  Both funds expect the selling of the investments to take some time due to the complicated market conditions in Russia.

In total, ABP still invests about 520 million euros in Russia, and bpfBouw about 58 million euros. This amounts to less than 0.1 percent of the total invested capital. As of recent, both funds have been rapidly reducing their investments in Russia. For example, no investments have been made in Russian government bonds that are on our exclusion list due to a binding EU weapons embargo.


“ABP is shocked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the violence it has brought about. Our sympathies go out to all the people in Ukraine. ABP has closely been following developments, which has now resulted in selling all our remaining investments in Russian companies,” the fund stated on its website. bpfBouw calls its decision one ‘made on principles’.

Stock exchange remains closed

It is no easy task to act swiftly and sell all investments immediately, as the Moscow stock exchange is still closed. Also, Russia does not accept sell orders from foreign investors. Both funds announce that APG will sell their investments as soon as this is deemed responsible.  They also emphasise that they are closely monitoring developments. This includes keeping an eye on the consequences of the sanctions package imposed on Russia.

First in the Netherlands

As previously stated, the two funds are the first in the Netherlands to sell their investments in response to the Russian invasion. Other countries, including Denmark, Switzerland and Belgium, preceded the Netherlands with similar actions.

Volgende publicatie:
Board game Monopoly bad representation of economic reality, except for meal delivery guys

Board game Monopoly bad representation of economic reality, except for meal delivery guys

Published on: 29 December 2021

Thijs Knaap, chief economist at APG, told in the Investor Panel of BNR Nieuwsradio yesterday that the board game Monopoly is usually a poor representation of the economy. According to Knaap, however, it is reasonably right for the meal delivery market. “Eventually one party will become dominant. This is less of a problem for investors than for the companies themselves: if you know that one party will become dominant, you can invest in all parties and sit back and see who it will be.”


Furthermore, moderated by Thomas van Zijl, it was about the record dividend payments expected for 2022. That, amongst other subjects, was discussed in the BNR Investor Panel. Listen to the entire broadcast here (in Dutch).


Volgende publicatie:
“Would a monkey invest as well as an investor?”

“Would a monkey invest as well as an investor?”

Published on: 23 September 2021

Current issues related to economics, (responsible) investing, pension, and income: Every week, an APG expert gives a clear answer to the question of the week. This time: chief economist Thijs Knaap about the question of whether you can beat the market with active investing. “Not as a private investor. But as a pension fund you are in a fundamentally entirely different position.”


Give a blindfolded monkey some darts, get him to throw a bunch at the newspaper’s stock page and you’ll get an equity portfolio that will yield the same as a professionally assembled one.  What Princeton professor Burkon Malkiel meant when he made this claim in 1973 was that stock prices show a random and unpredictable course. In other words, deviating from the stock index by investing in specific stocks from that index - i.e., an active investment strategy - does not provide additional returns without additional risk, and therefore makes no sense.


Does this claim hold water? Knaap says it probably does for  the private investor. Does this mean that a pension fund is also better off investing its entire capital in the index? No, the economist asserts, because a pension fund is in a fundamentally different positition. Partially because it has investment options that require scale, professional knowledge, and staying power. These types of investments, which a private investor does not have access to, are a source of extra revenue for pension funds.


Not the only smart investor

Knaap: “Malkiel was right in the sense that so-called stock picking does not make sense for private individuals. You are not going to be the only smart investor who analizes a company and tries to predict the price movement of that stock based on that analysis.  Information is usually factored into prices - prices reflect expectations. With that assumption, it is not possible for a private investor to beat the market with active investing. In that case, it is better to invest in the entire stock index. And that is possible today with inexpensive index trackers.”


However, there is a world of difference between investing in equities as an individual and investing as a pension administrator, which invests total assets of 620 billion euros for its clients. First of all, because a pension fund must match its investments to the (payment) obligations to participants, a process called asset-liability management.


“If you let the proverbial monkey invest in stocks, the choice to invest only in stocks is already made. But do you want to invest in shares at all, and if so, how much of your capital do you want to invest in them? Two thirds of our investment portfolio consist of other investment categories. These include bonds, real estate, commodities, infrastructure and loans to companies. As a pension fund, you have to decide which categories you want to invest in, and in what proportions. In such a way that you can pay out the right pension amount to each participant at the right time. This requires a great deal of analysis, because it is quite complex and there is no one right method.”


No lists

A pension fund also differs from a private equity investor because its position is better in terms of information, and because participants expect more from their fund than just a market return.

Knaap: “We talk to the companies we invest in about sustainability and good corporate governance - by voting at shareholders’ meetings and denouncing any abuses, for example. We  are familiar with companies as shareholders, as discussion partners, and also from the debt market. And the same applies to their competors.  Compared to the private investor, you therefore often have better information and can perform better analyses. Of course, that also involves costs, but in this way we think we can beat the benchmark - the index. And if you look at it over a longer period, our stock and corporate bond investors are doing the same, by a wide margin.”


And thirdly, perhaps the most fundamental reason why you can’t compare APG to a private investor: An investor of this scope can invest in assets that are not an option for the individual. Knaap: “You can only invest in asset categories like infrastructure and loans to companies if you have enough capital for that. In addition to scale, you must also have the required knowledge to be able to invest in them. For certain assets, in China for example, you must have considerable local knowledge. There are no lists of such investments to choose from, as there are at a stock exchange. You really have to look for them. Our stake in the joint venture with KPN for the rollout of fiber optics only becomes an asset once we have established the joint venture with KPN. But there is an entire process that precedes that. And you wouldn’t send a monkey to Rotterdam for that.”


Sell quickly 

Knaap continues: “Moreover, you invest in such assets for the long term. You don’t just sell illiquid investments like that overnight. As a pension fund, you are in an excellent position to invest in a certain asset for a long period of time. It is precisely in the markets where patience is required that we are currently seeing the best opportunities. As a pension investor, you can beat the index by investing in the more illiquid, less accessible markets. Liquid markets, such as the stock market, still have a function, because you also need assets that you can sell quickly if necessary. But for large pension funds, active investment in illiquid assets is currently a major source of return. And this works out in the favor of the participants in the long run.”

Volgende publicatie:
“I’m convinced we can take on the competition”

“I’m convinced we can take on the competition”

Published on: 19 March 2021

Chairman of the Board, Annette Mosman talks on BNR about the new pension contract


Annette Mosman joined the BNR program Zakendoen (Doing Business) yesterday to talk about the introduction of the new pension contract (NPC), as well as the tight planning and the cost price per participant. APG’s investment policy also came up. One thing’s for sure: as pension administrator, APG needs to step up.


A hundred years of pension system is being overhauled: A huge reorganization. Moreover, as Mosman pointed out, we need to deliver a product in 2026, while we currently have no idea what this will look like. “In the meantime, we just have to get on and get ready for this.”

Certainty about the pension amount is making way for greater individual responsibility. However, as pensions are not really a topic that concerns most people, transparency and clear communications are more essential than ever, explained Mosman. We need a contract we can implement and justify. Certainly because there’s already a concern for that so-called unlucky generation - between 35 and 55 years - who won’t benefit from the old system but are confronted with commitments in the new one. The term ‘pension theft’ came up in this connection.

“It’s not pension theft; it’s more of a redistribution. There will still be a pension pot of some 1,800 billion but we’ll be distributing that across different generations. Those in political circles and employers’ and employees’ organizations - we are only the administrator - need to make sure that this continues to be fair on participants.”


Two variants

The law must be adopted on January 1, 2022. There are two variants: the new contract and the Improved Defined Contribution Scheme Act, which is arranged in a more individual way. It’s up to the funds and employers’ and employees’ organizations to make a choice. Mosman says, “As administrator we’re contributing ideas and making calculations. We work for eight funds and will be implementing both schemes. I think that the large funds will probably choose the new contract including the collective buffer.” This variant requires a lot of explanation to participants. “The other contract is simpler, which makes it cheaper. If you have a membership with small pensions, it’s perhaps a logical choice to go for the Improved Defined Contribution Scheme Act. Because the size of the pension is much more important than all the communications around this.”


Investing in Shell

The interview then focused on APG as large investor. Risk, return, costs and sustainability are criteria that APG considers when investing. “We’re about providing a good pension for everyone. Not only financially, but also in a sustainable world. We’ve made a conscious choice for engagement and inclusion and don’t only invest based on return considerations. By continuing to meet with Shell, we can also exert positive influence.”



“We have 100 years’ experience and 3,000 pension and investment experts in house.

And we’re really good administrators. So the more complex the system, the easier we can retain our competitive position. But when I think about the eight funds and the four-and-a-half million participants we work for, then all that complexity just undermines confidence in the new system.”

Capgemini, which has drafted the pension fund for the retail trade, claims that it will soon cost fifteen euro per participant in pension administration. Mosman: “We’re comparing apples to oranges here. You can compete on price, manage a simple pension pot and announce an amount to the participants. I’m not going to get into whether you can do that for fifteen euros. But I agree that our price needs to go down if the product becomes simpler. However, if you say that there needs to be more focus on income for later, you need to do something before it becomes a societal problem. Fortunately, our funds are of the opinion that participant communications, both during the transition and afterwards, are the top priority. And that’s included in the price.”


Listen to the entire broadcast here.

Volgende publicatie:
Look at Europe with an open mind

Look at Europe with an open mind

Published on: 23 December 2020

Compared to other member states, the Netherlands has a decent minimum wage and a good pension system. The European Commission tries to be facilitating and allow the member states a lot of freedom in setting up the new rules. The purpose of this is to bring member states closer together on the socioeconomic level. Johan Barnard and Wilfried Mulder feel it would be good for the Netherlands to participate in the development of the new European rules that the commission is setting up and to respond to them in a pragmatic way.


After years of strict austerity programs for member states with financial and economic problems, in recent years there has been increasing support to show that Europe can do a lot of good in the social arena. In 2017, government leaders, the European Commission and the European Parliament reached an agreement on the so-called European Pillar of Social Rights (link). This contains the EU's ambitions regarding equal opportunities and access to the labor market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion. It is divided into 20 principles. Principle 6 deals with wages and Principle 15 with income for the elderly and pensions. Luxembourg Commissioner Nicolas Schmit was commissioned (link) to translate this social pillar into action. First with a proposal on minimum wage and then with an action plan for the other principles.


EU and minimum wage

The Commission recently presented the proposal for a directive on adequate minimum wages in the Union (link). This proposal includes provisions to promote collective bargaining between social partners (employers and employees). It also contains criteria that Member States should consider within the framework of a minimum wage. Because minimum wages are set by collective agreement between social partners in six member states, the proposal does not require a statutory minimum wage. However, it does not impose a specific level of minimum wages either. This is partly because the EU does not have the power to do so on the basis of the treaty, but also because it must be possible to take various factors into account, such as differences in labor productivity.


The Dutch government is positive about the proposal (link). Partly because adequate minimum wages in other member states (also) contribute to upward socio-economic convergence within the EU (convergence of member states) and to fairer competition within and between EU member states. The Hague also argues that the proposal should stay within the competences of the EU. For the Netherlands, which already has a relatively high minimum wage according to EU standards, not much needs to change. It is mainly a matter of which criteria should explicitly play a role in the consideration.

Nevertheless, the Dutch government prefers a non-binding recommendation from the European Council over the (binding) proposal for a directive from the European Commission, because in its opinion this could also work. However, our view is that the implementation of non-binding instruments is often very disappointing, especially in situations where competitive differences play a role. If the Netherlands is serious about reducing unfair competition between employees in the internal market, a directive therefore seems much better to us.


EU and pensions

The European Commission will therefore also come up with an action plan to implement the other principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Principle 15 is about the income of the elderly and pensions:


                  “Upon retirement, employees and self-employed people are entitled to a pension

                  commensurate with their contributions and an adequate income. Women and men have

                  equal opportunities to acquire pension rights.

   In old age, everyone is entitled to resources that enable a dignified life.”


In 2019, an expert group set up by the commission already pointed out the importance of supplementary collective pensions (link) and the positive role of social consultation. Last September, the commission added that in its action plan for the Capital Market Union (link), the committee indicated that when pension provisions are also funded (such as Dutch pension funds), their investments can play an important role for the financial stability in Europe. The commission is proposing a “dashboard”, for example, with which the quality of national pension systems can be compared per member state. In addition, the commission is advocating the introduction of national pension registers in all member states and wants further research into methods to increase participation in collective pensions, including auto-enrollment.

The action plan is likely to build on these ideas. In Member States with inadequate pension systems, much needs to be done to give European citizens access to a good pension, as Principle 15 calls for. Of course, questions may also arise about the Dutch pension system. Although our country has one of the best pension systems in the world (link), there are still groups in the Netherlands that are less well reached. Think of “white spots” (employees of companies that are not affiliated with a pension plan), the self-employed and, to a certain extent, women. It is therefore possible that in the future, the implementation of Principle 15 will also lead to obligations for the Netherlands. If that helps to solve real problems in the Netherlands, we would argue for a pragmatic and businesslike consideration. In addition, this would give further substance to the upward social convergence that the government has embraced for the proposal on minimum wages.


That brings us to the conclusion. Compared to other member states, the Netherlands has a decent minimum wage and a good pension system. The European Commission tries, as much as it can, to be facilitating and leave a lot of freedom to the member states, and still move forward with upward social convergence. We recommend for the Netherlands to respond pragmatically to this and to cooperate in these kinds of new European rules of play. Of course, these rules should not affect the Dutch pension system. But they don't have to.  Certainly not with the same nuanced approach by the commission as with the minimum wage. And, of course, we want all European citizens to have a decent pension.


Ultimately, the interests of the Netherlands are best served by good and fair economic relations throughout the EU, which prevent us from getting stuck in the current discussions about solidarity between member states or the disadvantages of a transfer union.


Wilfried Mulder is a strategic policymaker at APG and Johan Barnard is the Head of International Public Affairs at APG

Volgende publicatie:
“We are seeing opportunities in affordable rental housing in cities”

“We are seeing opportunities in affordable rental housing in cities”

Published on: 1 December 2020

Robert-Jan Foortse, Head of European real estate at APG, about the post-corona investment strategy


For real estate investors, 2020 is also a very turbulent year.  Offices are standing empty because employees are working from home, consumers are increasingly shopping online, store owners are having a hard time paying their rent. How does a big real estate investor like APG deal with this?  By becoming much more flexible, says Robert-Jan Foortse, Head of European real estate at APG. “The time when you could buy an office building as an investor, get someone in there on a 10- or even 25-year lease and then sit back and just send an invoice every quarter has definitely passed.”


The real estate market is super-hectic right now. To what extent does that impact your investment strategy?

“Part of our real estate is listed on the stock exchange, we can quickly move     that if we want to have other emphases; for example, invest more in data centers and less in stores. But our investment strategy will not change substantially as a result of the corona crisis. We want to build and manage a portfolio of global real estate investments that offers a predictable dividend and grows in value over the long term. That is what our clients want from us. Return on investment is paramount, so that members are assured of an affordable pension. In addition, the sustainability of our real estate is at the top of our agenda; it really is a top priority.”   


In what regions do you invest and what do you invest in?

“Worldwide, we invest about 42% in Europe, 30% in North and South America, and 28% in Asia. In Europe it is mostly investments in the Netherlands, England, Germany and France. Out of our total investments, about 535 billion Euros as of mid-November, more than 42 billion Euros is in real estate. We invest not only in houses, stores, outlet centers and offices, but also in logistics, i.e. warehouses, and distribution centers. We invest a smaller portion in hotels, student housing, data centers and other things. In short, we have a very diverse real estate portfolio and our risks are spread out very well.”


Does this diverse approach work during a mega-crisis like the corona pandemic? 

“We will probably also have a negative return in 2020. That is certainly something we are not used to. The last fifteen years we have had an average return of 8.7% a year. And please note: that average includes the consequences of the financial crisis in 2008, when things were really bad too. Offices and stores are currently under a lot of pressure, but at the same time, we are seeing that the housing portfolio is stable and that data centers and logistics real estate are doing very well. That also applies to outlet centers like Batavia Stad Fashion Outlet in Lelystad, which are scarcely seeing any decline in the number of visitors. So, yes, this confirms the wisdom of a diversified portfolio all the more.”


The rental incomes will be under pressure for a while yet. How is APG dealing with that? Selling stores probably doesn’t pay much right now...

“The time when you could buy an office building as an investor, get someone in there on a 10- or even 25-year lease and then sit back and just send an invoice every quarter has definitely passed. And the certainty that a tenant will always pay their rent is also wobbly right now. This makes sense during a time when incomes have come to a standstill. But despite the fact that they have a contract, some tenants reasoning is now: if my neighbor stopped paying rent, why should I pay mine? Plus, governments in some countries are more or less advising store owners to postpone paying their rent. This makes it seem like suddenly it is socially acceptable to ignore a rental agreement. We have no control over these kinds of developments, so that means that we have to spend time on complying with contracts, oddly enough. But above all, it means that we have to set ourselves up to be much more flexible.”



“You need to be much closer to your tenant to be able to get the most return out of your building. That is why we are increasingly opting for investments where we have more control and can work more closely with the operational, local partner that really manages the building. No, we don’t do that ourselves; we don’t have the manpower for that. Take, for example, our investment in The Student Hotel, a Dutch provider of student housing in Europe, with branches in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Eindhoven, Maastricht, Groningen and Delft. Students reside in The Student Hotel on the Wibautstraat in Amsterdam, in the former offices of Parool and Trouw, and hotel guests can book a room and flex-workers can have a quiet place to work during the day as well. There is a restaurant and there are all kinds of sports facilities. In the basement, where the printing presses used to be, there is now a swimming pool where you can take swimming lessons from Johan Kenkhuis, a former Olympic swimmer. It is a lively building with all kinds of functions. A great example of how you can be flexible and creative with the spaces in a building.”


What about office buildings?

“I would like to see the same flexibility there too: many tenants really don’t know long they want to be there now and with how many employees. So, it’s better to not pin them down for a long-term lease. For example, you could rent one floor to flex-workers temporarily. As a landlord or owner, you should be close to your tenants, so you know what they want.”


Another example is hotels that are renting out rooms by the day to flex-workers, now that hotel guests are staying away. Does APG see opportunities there too?

“Yes, that is a good example of flexible thinking. We already got into CitizenM, entrepreneur Rattan Chadha’s successful hotel chain, back in 2008. They have now launched two options: in their hotels, you can now buy a subscription for a workspace. And you can buy a ‘global passport’ that you can use to rent a room in any CitizenM-hotel in the world for a month, for the equivalent of about 50 Euros a night. We are certainly looking for new opportunities in that vain.”


Apart from the current corona crisis, what long-term mega-trends are you influenced by in the selection of investments?

“For example, through the demographic and social changes. Every generation, from baby boomers to millennials to generation Z, has its own preferences, wishes and needs. People are getting older and living at home longer. In addition, people will increasingly be moving to cities in the next few decades, even though we are currently in a period where people are fleeing from some cities. Those trends mean that there are opportunities in care real estate, and affordable rental housing in cities. For example, we are investing in Australian senior real estate through an investment in the Australian Lendlease. These are villas for retired people in separate villages that are geared entirely to their needs. In Europe, we are still searching for something similar. And in London, we are currently investing in constructing and renting out affordable housing, which will be very much in demand in the coming years. In addition, the demand for, for example, distribution centers and data centers is also greatly increasing due to technological trends like digitalization and the growth in e-commerce.”


And what about the sustainability trend?

“That trend is our number one priority. In 2008, we were one of the founders of "GRESB", the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark. Almost all parties in the real estate sector now follow this guideline, with which you can measure the sustainability performance of real estate investments very accurately. Over the years, the bar has been raised ever higher. Every year our real estate portfolio scores well above the average; more than 65% of our investments score four or five stars, the highest categories in GRESB. And with every new investment, we obligate the parties involved to not only participate in GRESB, but also to commit themselves to come to a 4-5 star rating in consultation with us.”

In addition, APG announced in May that it is committed to CRREM, de Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitor. Why?
“This Monitor clarifies for various types of real estate how much CO₂ per square meter they are allowed to emit annually until 2050 to stay within the Paris Climate Accord goals. In this way, we can make it measurable to what extent we are providing a contribution with our real estate investments. And we can call real estate managers and listed real estate companies to account if, in our view, they do not sufficiently contribute to the goals of the Climate Accord.”

I don’t suppose they will always be happy about that. Because making things more sustainable means substantial investments...
“Yes, sometimes it requires a discussion. But fortunately, everyone knows about the need of sustainability these days. It gets tricky sometimes when you start to look at the numbers. But don’t forget that sustainability can also result in making money. Think of substantially lower energy costs. Or the higher rent you can ask for as a building owner if you are offering a very sustainable building to potential tenants. In addition, more and more tenants only want to rent responsible buildings, because they want to be more environmentally friendly in their own activities.”

Is sustainability happening fast enough for you in the real estate sector?
“Instinctively I’d say: we are still going too slow. I dare say that APG is in the lead in the real estate world in that aspect. That is why we get together with other big investors whenever possible. Because together you can accomplish more.”

We are having this conversation, each from our own house right now. Will people continue to work from home, entirely or partially after the corona crisis? Or will everybody return to the office?
“The answer depends partially on the culture you work in. Our coworkers in Hong Kong often have smaller homes and really want to get back to the office full-time. I do too, to tell you the truth, because I miss the contact with my team. But other people want to keep working from home, at least partially. It will be interesting to see what kind of permanent impact the corona crisis is going to have on our real estate investments.”

Volgende publicatie:
Why does Dutch pension money pay off so well?

Why does Dutch pension money pay off so well?

Published on: 27 November 2020

What catches the eye first in the OECD report “Pension Markets in Focus 2020” published earlier this month, is the investment returns obtained on pension assets in the Netherlands (in the second and third pillars, i.e. pension funds or insurers). With a return of 13.7 percent, the Netherlands was surpassed only by Ireland (18.5 percent). A superior performance? Ronald Wuijster tempers the enthusiasm: "The return from one year doesn’t mean anything to me. Our clients' obligations are long-term in nature, so APG also invests for the long term. The returns over five, ten and fifteen years are relevant to us".


Strong logic

In terms of average annual yield over a fifteen-year period, Colombia (6.2 percent), the Dominican Republic (6.8 percent) and Uruguay (5.2 percent) performed best. But the Netherlands and Canada were also among the global leaders with a figure of around 5 percent. This is not only due to skill.

Wuijster: "Certainly, we have a well-structured investment policy, we've given it a lot of thought via ALM (Asset and Liability Management, matching your investments to your short- and long-term payment obligations, ed.). We have a long-term orientation, well-targeted investment solutions, and we respond to sustainability. This quality as an investor certainly contributes to the strong Dutch performance over the past fifteen years. But that performance also has to do with the fact that Dutch pension funds are the only ones to have an interest rate hedge (a way of limiting exposure to the investment risk of falling or rising interest rates, ed.). This hedge is not mandatory in itself, but there is a very strong logic to applying the FTK".


Seriously contributed

The FTK (Financial Assessment Framework, part of the Dutch Pensions Act) stipulates the statutory financial requirements for pension funds. The guidelines of the Financial Assessment Framework (FTK) require a pension fund to assess its investments (and therefore also their risks) in relation to its obligations. For example, for a payment obligation that lies far in the future, you can take more investment risk now than for a payment you will be making next month. 

Wuijster: "As a result of the FTK, it is customary for a pension fund to hedge about 50 percent of the interest rate sensitivity. And that has been an unexpected factor that has seriously contributed to the investment returns of Dutch pension funds over the past 10-15 years".


In “Pension Markets In Focus 2020”, the OECD provides a global overview of the accumulated pension capital of the 37 member states and describes the most important developments. The most important financial indicators are listed, such as the total accrued pension assets, what these assets are invested in, and the returns achieved.

Volgende publicatie:
“Enterprising investment is the name of the game”

“Enterprising investment is the name of the game”

Published on: 22 October 2020

As a long-term investor, how do you deal with the short-term developments in a rapidly changing world, resulting from Covid-19? How do you not get distracted by the issues of the day? Enterprising investment in real assets is the name of the game, says APG’s Ronald Wuijster, executive board member, responsible for Asset Management. This means direct investments, without intervention from financial markets. Wuijster spoke about this during the World Pension Summit, which is happening from October 19 to 23.  


An institutional investor like APG invests for the long term. That makes sense, because the financial obligations of a pension fund last well into the future. The advantage of this is that you have time to allow an investment to fully mature, if necessary. The returns do not have to be withdrawn from one day to the next. However, that does not mean that you can just ignore all short-term developments, especially if these are extreme developments, such as we are currently experiencing with Covid-19.


Big dent

Whether it concerns government bonds, shares, real estate or private equity, today’s expected returns have all fallen by about 2-3%, as compared to 2012. Wuijster: “That may sound like a modest decline, but over a period of several years, it signifies a considerable dent in invested assets. If you look at the causes of that decrease in returns in the past few years, roughly four factors emerge. Low productivity growth in companies and an increase in government, company and household debts. Those are the first two. In addition, during the past five years, the central banks have also pursued a monetary policy by rapidly buying government debt – to stimulate the economy. And the increasingly intensive search for investment that will still generate some returns, has also put further pressure on returns.”

Please note: this was the situation up until March of 2020. The outbreak of the Corona pandemic had a further accelerating effect on all four of these trends. In other words, the expected investment returns further declined, because of it.

Masks and medications

At the same time, Covid-19 is accompanied by several trends that you can take advantage of as an institutional investor, according to Wuijster. “The tendency of authorities to act with decisiveness and intervention is greater than the fear of getting into debt. This creates opportunities to invest with those authorities in projects that are aimed at softening the crisis. In addition, face-to-face meetings have rapidly decreased, which has a significant impact on retail, the office market and travel behavior. And that, in turn, provides interesting opportunities for investing in infrastructure, but also requires a re-orientation within the real estate portfolio: does it fit in optimally with these developments? What we are also seeing is that a development is occurring where particularly crucial production – masks, medications – are being ‘brought home’ again. That development, incidentally, had already started before Covid-19; the long value chains between, for example, China and Europe are seen as too vulnerable. As long as things go according to plan, it seems to work fine, but if just one little thing in the chain goes wrong, the consequences are huge.”


Another trend Ronald draws attention to is the boost that working remotely got from Corona. Because, once people are used to working that way, how small is the step to offshoring? Does that legal analysis really need to be done in Amsterdam, or can it also be done in Delhi? Services are becoming marketable at a furious pace, which may lead to a new globalization wave, Wuijster predicts.

The Corona age therefore brings its own investment opportunities with it, but it is also clear that as an investor, you seriously need to take into consideration the threat of a lurking financial crisis. 


The door remains closed

In a world in which safe assets with sufficient returns are really no longer available, “enterprising investment” is the name of the game for an institutional investor. These are direct investments, without the involvement of financial markets. And that is exactly why there are advantages for a big investor like APG. Wuijster: “Due to the scope of the invested assets and knowledge of local markets, there is access to such real assets, while the door remains closed to parties that don’t have the same large scale. That scope is also required for being able to monitor those direct investments, which is, of course, a much more labor- and knowledge-intensive process than investing in the stock market.”


Finger in the pie

These kinds of investments in real assets offer the opportunity to have a significant finger in the proverbial pie. Those strong governance rights are really essential for the further development of our real assets investment portfolio, as far as we are concerned. In addition, partnerships play an important role as does cost efficiency in the investment process. We must also be able to influence the sustainability and governance factors that are relevant for a specific investment,” Wuijster states.   

Volgende publicatie:
APG long-term investment horizon “of huge importance”

APG long-term investment horizon “of huge importance”

Published on: 30 March 2020

APG wants to guarantee the continuity of the services we provide for the pension funds and 4.6 million participants – especially in a time where society faces a lot of uncertainty due to the developments around Covid-19. To counter the consequences of the Covid-19 spread, we have been taking various measures.


One aspect of this, is to ensure our clients’ pension administration remains robust and accurate; especially now, it is important participants receive the correct pension, on time.

But also investing pension money well and responsibly is something that “simply” continues during these difficult times. The worldwide insecurity of this moment is having a considerably negative impact on the financial markets. Interest rates are also still at a very low level. Both factors strongly impact the coverage ratio of the pension funds APG works for. That is why a significant part of our attention is currently focused even more on the investments we make for our pension fund clients.


Ronald Wuijster, APG board member responsible for Asset Management: “Recently, the first priority has been to be able to keep working: analyzing, structuring and trading on financial  markets. We are ensuring that we continue to follow well tested procedures, agreed upon with our pension fund clients: We are preserving the hedges, we continue to re-balance and we are protecting the investment portfolio. As with many companies, the majority of APG employees, including most of the investment professionals, have been working from home these past few weeks. Only when there is no other option, work is done from the office.”


Even during this difficult period, APG continues to focus on realizing a responsible long-term return. On this, Ronald Wuijster states: “We believe in diversification, in which time-diversification in particular suits us well. It’s times like these that underline the immense importance of holding on to a long-term investment horizon. After more than ten good investment years, the near future will be challenging in terms of returns. At the same time, opportunities arise as well. Opportunities we need to think about already, because every crisis leads to a number of things never being the same again. There will be dozens of new trends and we will be able to take advantage of that for our clients.”


Bleak coverage ratio outlook, but some bright spots are also visible

APG is already discussing those future scenarios with pension fund clients: “Their coverage ratio outlook is bleak right now. But at the same time, there are rays of hope. The belief in the usefulness and necessity of spreading (collective) investment risk in time is seeing a strong resurgence nationwide. Another possible scenario is – and that would be the opposite of what happened during the credit crisis – that although the interest rate has initially fallen, it will be trending upwards for years to come, thanks to the financing needs of governments, which will probably lead to higher coverage ratios.”

Volgende publicatie:
A day on the road with BNR panel member Thijs Knaap

A day on the road with BNR panel member Thijs Knaap

Published on: 13 February 2020

Thijs Knaap, senior strategist at APG AM, has been a panel member of the BNR investment panel for over a year. At BNR they know him as someone who is not tempted by easy sound bites. His style is to have an eye for the broader perspective on the economy, stock markets and his specialty Asia. How does he prepare for a radio broadcast? We tagged along with him for a day.


February 4, 10:45 a.m.: two hours and forty-five minutes before the broadcast


Thijs Knaap enters the room spokesmen Michael Vos and Dick Kors are in. He is dressed in a spotless white shirt, black dress pants and suit jacket and freshly polished shoes. “I’m slightly overdressed for a radio performance,” he later jokes, “but I have an appointment with a client later today.” He’s holding two pages of notes in his hand. Yesterday, he received the subjects that are going to be discussed by email from the editors: elections of the democratic presidential candidate, the effects of the Corona virus on Chinese stock prices, and APG’s new sustainable and responsible investment policy.  What can he tell us about that on behalf of APG? He already has an outline of it on paper. With Dick and Michael, he dots the i’s. Have all the aspects of a subject been dealt with? What should you put the emphasis on? Meanwhile, Thijs is adding changes to his own notes while writing.


11:30 a.m.: two hours before the broadcast


After the meeting with the spokespeople Thijs has a brief consultation with Erik Jan Stork, fiduciary manager responsible for investments. Erik Jan provides some further substantive input about the new ABP sustainability policy. Thijs: “For the more specific subjects, such as sustainable investments and investing in shares, I always consult a colleague who is expert in a particular subject. That is very useful and fun too, because it is rapidly expanding my APG network.”


12:40 p.m.: fifty minutes before the broadcast


After a quick lunch, it is time to travel to BNR. From the Zuidas to Amsterdam-East. A trip he usually takes on his bicycle. “Easy and quick, and a bit of extra movement won’t do me any harm.” But he does check the precipitation radar. It looks like the trip there will be dry. Apparently, some showers are expected on the way back. “Come on, let’s take a chance!” A few minutes later, on the bike: “I just counted: this will be my 21st broadcast as a panel member of BNR Zakendoen (Business Operations).” How do you become a regular panel member of a radio program? “Well, let me think. Last year, I got back to the Netherlands after a nearly two-year adventure at APG AM in Hong Kong. I already had the required media experience from previous positions. In addition to macro-economic knowledge, I now also had more of an understanding of the Asian market. You get invited for a broadcast once and before you know it your name is in the editor’s database and you get invited back repeatedly. With the full support of APG, of course. They saw it as a nice opportunity to generate some publicity.”


1:10 p.m.: twenty minutes before the broadcast


Thijs greets co-panel member Martine Hafkamp van Fintessa when he walks through the revolving door into the studio. On the couch at reception, they quickly run their topics by each other. Nervous? No, that’s not quite the right word. More like a healthy competitive tension, a moment of extra alertness and focused attention. “A performance in the media is never just a conversation. I received that wise lesson from the previous spokesman at APG. I sometimes realize that during a broadcast. A medium wants something from you, in the form of an interesting insight, or a provocative quote, and at the same time, as APG, we get the opportunity to share our vision with a wide audience.”


1:27 p.m.: three minutes before the broadcast


Clap, clap! Mary Pieterse Bloem from ABN Amro, the third panel member, has also sat down on the couch. A light-hearted conversation about the latest investment trends is abruptly interrupted by the recording manager. He indicates it’s time to go into the studio, by clapping his hands. Behind the glass, presenter Thomas van Zijl is already waiting for them. After some handshaking and a brief chat, the panel members go and stand behind their own microphones.


11:30 p.m.: start of the broadcast


The broadcast starts light-heartedly with a joke about Thijs’ pages of notes. “At BNR, they know by now that I come well-prepared.” During the program, some investors that can get a discussion going with some provocative quotes are invited. Thijs: “That’s not my style. I always try to put things in perspective and provide insight. I’m there not just as Thijs Knaap, but also as a representative of one of the biggest investment managers of the world. So, it’s my responsibility to come well-prepared. That doesn’t mean I avoid unexpected, personal questions. I trust that, even if it gets personal, I can speak largely on behalf of APG.”


1:45 p.m.:


The new sustainable and responsible investment policy comes up. Thomas van Zijl immediately fires off a critical question for Thijs. Does this policy not impose too many restrictions? Thijs: “First, we must make the CO2 emission of our portfolio measurable and then we must push it back. Some companies will fall off. We totally trust that we will be able to meet these goals while maintaining profit and risk.”


2:00 p.m.:


End of the broadcast. Thijs chats with presenter Thomas van Zijl for a few more minutes and then appears at the reception desk again. It’s raining out by now. With a cup of coffee at Dauphine, a nearby restaurant, we wait for the shower to pass. How did it go? “Pretty good. Although it’s always tricky to summarize something complex, like a sustainable investment policy, in just a few sentences.”


2:20 p.m.


By now it’s pouring outside. Cycling back in a suit is not an attractive option. We decide to take our bikes onto the metro to get back. Back to his “fan club” at Symphony. Most of his immediate co-workers have listened to the broadcast, I expect. Sometimes there is a slightly critical tone. “Why didn’t you discuss this topic?”, but secretly, they are pretty proud of their man at BNR.  


Listen to the broadcast of the BNR Investment panel with Thijs Knaap here.

Volgende publicatie:
Annual report APG 2018: APG on track, despite a challenging year

Annual report APG 2018: APG on track, despite a challenging year

Published on: 25 April 2019

Highlights of the annual report:

  • Market outperformed despite challenging market conditions
  • Lower costs per participant
  • Members given additional insight and action agenda
  • New accommodation for business units

In 2018 APG achieved an average additional return for its pension funds and their members of 90 basis points compared to the market. At the same time, APG succeeded in reducing its administration costs per participant by 6% to €69.40. APG also gave 850,000 ABP participants an insight into pension assets via the Personal Pension Depot, and 56,000 SPW participants were given a financial action agenda with the launch of Clear Overview and Insight. APG's turnover in 2018 was €1,036 million. The net result was €48 million.


Gerard van Olphen, chairman of APG's Executive Board: “What I found the most challenging were the external circumstances. We're working hard on pension value: our aim is to create as much value as possible for every euro that participants put into their pension. Over the past year, we've taken a few good steps: we're strategically on track, we've reduced the average administration costs per participant by six percent and we have offered people more insight into their pension. At the same time, the market continues to be plagued by the prospect of cuts due to low interest rates. The lack of a pension agreement also continues to decrease the confidence of participants and public support in general. That doesn't make it easier.”

APG manages the pension assets of millions of people, and they have to be able to rely on their accrued pension rights being properly invested, administered and paid out.

In 'Pension shouldn’t become a second Brexit', CEO Gerard van Olphen and Ronald Wuijster, responsible for asset management, look back and ahead and explain how APG deals with dilemmas such as no pension agreement, returns versus sustainability and bonuses for investors. Read the entire interview here


View the full APG Annual Report 2018 here

Volgende publicatie:
Loyalis acquired by a.s.r.

Loyalis acquired by a.s.r.

Published on: 4 December 2018

APG focusses on realization of pension value for participants

ASR Nederland N.V. (a.s.r.) and APG have reached an agreement that a.s.r. will acquire insurance subsidiary Loyalis from pension provider APG. The intended sale of Loyalis fits in APG's strategy to focus primarily on the realization of pension value for participants of pension funds operated by APG. The sale to a.s.r. offers Loyalis a new home with a reputable insurer and with it the possibility to further increase its scale and realize a broader product range. In order to guarantee the continuity of service to customers, long-term agreements have been made between APG and a.s.r. As a result, customers continue to receive the services as they are accustomed to from Loyalis. It has also been agreed that the non-life insurance company and the related staff services of Loyalis will remain in Heerlen.

A.s.r. reports: “The name and brand Loyalis will continue to exist. The Loyalis office will remain in Heerlen. From here, the disability business of Loyalis will continue to operate and continue the collaboration with APG for the benefit of knowledge sharing, product development and customer service. The life and pension activities of Loyalis are expected to be integrated into a.s.r. a.s.r. together with APG, it intends to compensate for possible loss of jobs as much as possible within the activities in Heerlen and by filling vacancies at and APG. "


Gerard van Olphen, CEO of the APG Group, says he is pleased that Loyalis will be acquired by a.s.r.: "With a.s.r., Loyalis is offered the opportunity to strengthen its future in the insurance market. a.s.r. is a large Dutch party that offers continuity and security for Loyalis customers in the longer term. APG can now focus more on its primary tasks in the area of pension administration and asset management of the pension funds that are connected to us. APG remains connected to Loyalis through a cooperation agreement with a.s.r. We want to thank everyone at Loyalis for their dedication. With their expertise and commitment, they have made Loyalis what it is today: a strong and beautiful insurance company with unique products. We wish our people every success in the future, and we look forward to the continuation of our cooperation ".


Peter van Wageningen, CEO of Loyalis: "I am happy with the new perspective for Loyalis. I want to thank our people for their efforts in the past period. Thanks to their enthusiasm and commitment, Loyalis has grown into a strong and solid company. With our new shareholder we can continue to work on the further development of our products, services and customer service. By completing the sales process, we can fully focus on working with our customers and expanding our market position."


The final completion of the acquisition is subject to approval by the official authorities. Furthermore, the Works Council of APG will be given the opportunity to render advice with respect to the Transaction. Naturally, employee participation is fully informed and closely involved in the process.

Volgende publicatie:
APG sells Inovita to Keylane

APG sells Inovita to Keylane

Published on: 5 September 2018

Unfortunately, this article is not available in English.

Volgende publicatie:
Pipelines Tar Sand: biggest impact as active shareholder

Pipelines Tar Sand: biggest impact as active shareholder

Published on: 31 July 2018

Greenpeace asks pension funds and other investor to sell assets in companies that build pipelines for the transport of tar sands. They have also approached ABP and APG.


At ABP/APG, we prefer to engage in dialogue with these companies instead of selling our assets. Because we are shareholders, we can have a positive influence on companies when it comes to themes like human rights, climate change and industrial safety. With this and other investments, we always look at the factors return, risk, cost and sustainability. We believe that society and our participants are best served with critical shareholders such as APG/ABP. We appreciate input from organizations such as Greenpeace and we use that in our dialogue with companies we invest in.


Dialogue with Greenpeace

July 11th we have sent a letter to Greenpeace. On July 19th a delegation of ABP and APG has had a meeting with Greenpeace. After summer we will continue our dialogue with Greenpeace in a meeting where the CEO’s of ABP and APG will be present.


ABP and APG aim to contribute to a more sustainable world, investing the pension premiums of our participants through corporate responsibility and sustainable investments. As sustainability is not an optional item in both our perspective, ABP has implemented a number of specific targets for ABP’s sustainable and responsible investment policy to be realized by 2020 and executed by APG.

Volgende publicatie:
Prime Minister Rutte visits E fund and APG in China

Prime Minister Rutte visits E fund and APG in China

Published on: 11 April 2018

A broad Dutch government delegation, including Prime Minister Rutte, is visiting China this week for a trade mission. The partnership of APG and E fund is part of their program. E Fund is one of the largest investors in China. APG and E Fund exchange knowledge in the field of asset management, ICT and pension administration.


Prime Minister Rutte paid a one-hour visit to the E Fund office in Guangzhou, expressing his appreciation for the partnership and its benefits for both companies and countries. 

In the presence of Minister Bruins, the signing of a declaration of intent between APG, E fund, Erasmus University and the University of Peking was also started, starting with the first research project of the Financial Future Planning Academy.

Volgende publicatie:
APG welcomes EU Expert Group report on Sustainable Finance

APG welcomes EU Expert Group report on Sustainable Finance

Published on: 31 January 2018

In late 2016, the European Commission tasked a High Level Expert Group (HLEG) to work on a more sustainable financial system and develop a comprehensive blueprint for reforms along the entire investment chain, on which to build a sustainable finance strategy for the EU. This 20 member Group, including Claudia Kruse, Managing Director Responsible Investment & Governance at APG, published its final report today.


One of the key recommendations is to create an EU Sustainable Taxonomy, a classification system to determine which assets contribute to the Paris Climate agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. This is in line what APG and its clients would like to achieve and the asset owner led Taxonomy on Sustainable Development Investments (SDIs), will be one of the existing frameworks to build on.


Other recommendations of the EU Expert Group are:

  • Clarify investor duties to better embrace long-term horizon and sustainability preferences
  • Upgrade disclosure rules to make sustainability risks fully transparent, starting with climate change
  • Key elements of a retail strategy on sustainable finance: investment advice, ecolabel and SRI minimum standards
  • Develop and implement official European sustainability standards and labels, starting with green bonds
  • Establish ‘Sustainable Infrastructure Europe
  • Governance and Leadership
  • Include sustainability in the supervisory mandate of the ESAs and extend the horizon of risk monitoring

Claudia Kruse Managing Director Responsible Investment & Governance at APG:
“We welcome the Commission’s ambition to building a more sustainable financial system and are delighted that we were able to contribute as part of the EU High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance. In our view these recommendations can help drive the necessary change to shift more capital towards sustainable solutions and integrate sustainability in investment decisions. APG and its clients are recognized for their leadership on responsible investing and we believe that a sustainable financial system is in the best interest of beneficiaries."

Volgende publicatie:
China’s E Fund and Dutch APG Introduce Financial Future Planning Academy

China’s E Fund and Dutch APG Introduce Financial Future Planning Academy

Published on: 21 March 2017

After signing of the Letter of Intent last June, China’s 3rd largest asset manager E Fund and one of the largest European pension fund providers APG co-launch the “Financial Future Planning Academy.


The Academy will be working with top universities of both markets, focusing on financial investments, technology, policies and regulations, and researching on industry concerning topics to provide better investment products and policy implementation consultation.


‘Think tank’ for thought leadership

Sau Kwan, President of E Fund, said, “We are really excited to establish the Academy together with APG. I believe the Academy will be the ‘think tank’ to provide thought leadership and solutions for both markets, and help us be better decision makers, continually serving for our clients and community.” The partnership between E Fund and APG started last June and covers a broad spectrum of pension administration, asset management and ICT domains. A lot of achievements have been made during the past 10 months, including a joint investment platform for the China market as well as a technology partnership. Regarding the establishment of the Academy, Gerard van Olphen, CEO of APG also stated, “We are glad to be co-founding the Academy. It’s a significant step of our partnership with E Fund. The Academy will produce professional insights and consultancy to support us in research and investment, guiding investors and individuals on better retirement plans.”


About E Fund

Established on April 17, 2001, E Fund has grown to be a leading asset manager that provides asset management services in China with mutual funds, pension funds and segregated account business. As of the end of 2016, the company has overseen total AUM over RMB 1 trillion, ranking the top 3 fund managers in China. The company leads the 1st place by AUM without money market funds. Headquartered in Guangzhou, China, E Fund has offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, New York and other major cities in China.

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Investing in UN targets, with return on investment

Investing in UN targets, with return on investment

Published on: 6 September 2016

Last year, the UN set out the “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) for 2030. A set of 17 highly ambitious goals relating to climate, health care, education and further topics. In the coming 15 years, we will need all hands on deck, and we will need a contribution from major institutional investors to achieve these goals.


Increasing our investments into sustainable solutions

APG and PGGM aim to take their role in this transition towards a more sustainable world. Together, we invest funds for pension funds such as ABP and PFZW, managing over 600 billion euros in assets. We cannot make concessions to the financial results to be achieved for beneficiaries.  At the same time, we are committed to using our investments to contribute to realizing the SDGs.

On behalf of ABP and PFZW, and our other clients, we are significantly increasing our investments into sustainable solutions. From now on, we will refer to such investments as Sustainable Development Investments (SDIs). These investments must fulfill the regular risk return requirements, and they must also provide a substantial and measurable contribution to one or more SDGs.


Explicit about social goals

A new aspect is that our clients are explicit about the specific societal goals they want to align with; where they want to invest their beneficiaries ‘money in - not just where they don’t want to invest in. For example by supporting the UN SD goals relating to education or health care, without compromising on the financial result.


As institutional investors are shifting part of their assets to companies and other investments with a higher contribution to the SDGs, they are issuing a key signal to the relevant companies, their sectors and the market place as a whole. With our investments, we also stress the importance of being able to measure their contribution. This offers companies the option of profiling themselves with the solutions that their products and services represent in the light of a more sustainable world. This is work in progress, both for companies and investors. Simultaneously, it is also a source of innovation and motivation. A tool for customer loyalty and retention.


APG and PGGM have been closely collaborating on this new approach. Asset managers MN, ACTIAM and Kempen have also worked intensively on the theme in the past year. The large Swedish pension funds are also on board. Other institutional investors are invited to join. This week, the investment industry will gather at the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) conference in Singapore bringing together leading global institutional investors. We will promote the importance of a shared definition of Sustainable Development Investments and encourage other major institutional investors will take similar steps. Together we can change the world to make to make it a better place to live and retire in.

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Driving force behind GRESB

Driving force behind GRESB

Published on: 28 June 2016

Being one of the world’s largest real estate investors we will take account of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in this asset class.


APG is one of the world’s largest real estate investors and invests circa 10% of its assets under management in this asset class. We usually hold 5% to almost 40% stakes in funds and companies. We are a driving force behind an industry initiative, the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), and are pushing for consistent sustainability reporting standards across Real Estate Associations. We actively engage with our portfolio investments and asses new investment against strict ESG criteria.


Outperformance of APG against GRESB benchmark

The real estate sector accounts for circa 40% of emissions in the EU alone and is a contributing factor to climate change. APG believes that real estate companies and their investors benefit from enhanced sustainability performance of portfolio companies. To be able to assess and benchmark the sustainability performance of our real estate portfolios (listed and non-listed) globally we have been a driving force behind GRESB. The real estate portfolio of APG’s clients outperforms the GRESB benchmark, not least because we pursue a strategy of active engagement and dialogue with our investee companies to improve their performance.


Driving consistency in Real Estate sustainability reporting

APG is very active in different Real Estate Associations such as INREV and EPRA to ensure that these develop consistent sustainability reporting standards. Moreover, we were the only investor participating in the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Construction and Real Estate Sector Supplement and have ensured that there is consistency between this , GRESB and other sustainability guidelines promoted by Real Estate Associations.


Active dialogue and engagement

We actively exercise our shareholders rights to address corporate governance concerns at investee companies. We have a clear vision of what is acceptable and what isn’t and communicate this during dialogue with companies. Next to a real estate specialist in ESG for Europe we have a dedicated Sustainability & Governance Specialist in Asia also conducts due diligence on the ground.


Only 1st or 2nd quartile investments

We ensure that environmental, social and governance risks are understood during and prior to investing. External managers have to complete the online (GRESB) survey as a mandatory part of our due diligence process. If an investment does not yet rank among the top or 2nd quartile performers in the GRESB database, it has to commit to achieving this within two years. If an investment manager fails to do so we may not make further investments with this manager.


In sum, at APG sustainability and governance forms an integral part of the investment process. Our reputation as a leader in the field of responsible investing in real estate differentiates APG from other asset managers.

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Investing using Big Data

Investing using Big Data

Published on: 28 February 2016

Big investors are increasingly making use of big data, where large amounts of data to be analyzed in order to distill trends.


Valentijn van Nieuwenhuijzen flips open his laptop on the first trading day of this year, he sees immediately that something unusual is going on. The figures Market Psych, the system that NN Investment Partners measures the sentiment in the market come in. Articles on innovation score higher than average in the digital media, but more importantly, words that are associated with stress and (Gloom) dominate the digital domain, just as the term.


The main strategy of the Dutch asset manager with eruo 187 billion under management decides to step on the brake, he unscrews the equity investments back and keep more cash on. That week shoot investors indeed stressed: go global stock markets sharply down and the Amsterdam AEX index will experience the worst first week of the year yet.


Trends distill

Big investors are increasingly making use of big data, where large amounts of data to be analyzed in order to distill trends. "Actually, we try to predict human behavior," says Richard Mathieson, director of the Scientific Active Equity team at BlackRock. 


The world's largest asset manager in the world ($ 4,600 billion, converted some & euro; 4,200 billion) has been involved since 2008 engaged in the investment process and in San Francisco, the Mecca of the tech industry, a team of 25 data analysts put to work. BlackRock makes like NN using language analysis to measure sentiment. With special software are news sites, social media and other relevant sources scanned for words related to a positive or negative sentiment. That may be about a company or an industry, but also a political event that the FINANCE can put in motion le markets. For example, the debate on a brexit, a departure from the United Kingdom from the European Union. Since June 23, a referendum held on.


Information Value

At this time point the polls in the UK on a neck-and-neck race between supporters and opponents, "said Mathieson. "But our analysis shows messages on Twitter that a majority prevailed that the UK remains in the EU." Mathieson has not taken a position yet on this information. "Therefore, the market is too volatile and we do not rely on . N analysis

"It is an additional resource, not d & eacute; source "also emphasizes Van Nieuwenhuijzen of NN. How the data on digital media weigh in a decision, since the main strategy has no hard figures. & Lsquo; Cause you never know what you decided in the scenario if you had not had that knowledge. But it adds 10% to 20% of information value. Information that is only input for the final decision.


Knowledge production

NN Investment Partners uses the system about two years. For the much larger APG (& euro; 405 billion under management) began the experiment with big data in 2011. "Within five to ten years, investing using big data commonplace," says Ronald van Dijk, Managing Director at APG. "We now need to build knowledge about this way of investing."

APG has no special team for big data, but the asset that has the largest pension fund in the Netherlands (officials ABP) as its main customer, it frees up time for staff for this trend. They're especially when the team is already engaged in investing with computer models based on old-fashioned data such as macro data and analyst reports. This part of APG invests & euro; 60 billion.


Van Dijk says that the computer he uses to investment risk mapping 5% has become more accurate by using big data. According to him, the investment world only at the beginning of the big data revolution. "Many investors look at macro figures such as inflation and the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) in the previous quarter. But that's looking backwards. The data on, for example to analyze purchases on the internet you can find out what is happening now, what the sentiment is."


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More protection for minority shareholders

More protection for minority shareholders

Published on: 24 February 2016

When an acquisition of a Dutch listed company, minority shareholders draw increasingly on the short end. Even if the acquirer does not have enough equity to launch a squeeze-out procedure, the repeaters are relatively easy to put offside.


Accelerating border

In an interview with FD and investors APG Kempen Orange Participations and investors dome Eumedion that there really come to an end. Minority shareholders deserve according to their better protection. They want the border to honor to be able to make a takeover bid is raised. According to the law which is at 50% plus one share. "But 80% of the share capital would be a better threshold," said Rients Abma, director of Eumedion.


Stick stabbing for 'wegpesten shareholders'

Eumedion, APG and want Kempen & nbsp; additional protection. Minority shareholders should be able to appoint its own commissioner following completion of a takeover bid. Which should have a right of veto to block measures which go against the interests of the minority shareholders.


"Such a commissioner must not only defend the minority shareholders, but the interests of all stakeholders should," says Herman Kleeven, head of European investments at retirement investor APG. But he has to stabbing a stop to the 'wegpesten shareholders.


More contact than on capital

Currently, a company may appoint commissioners to fulfill that role. In the name are independent of the new majority shareholder, but the practice unmanageable. The specter is taking the events surrounding TenCate, where "independent" commissioner Egbert ten Cate financial interest had on the success of the acquisition.

According Kleeven is typical of the gap that exists between directors and shareholders. "We therefore want the auditors much more self-seek dialogue with shareholders. The company must not only come to us when capital is needed. "


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