Four senior staff from PGGM’s €3bn Responsible Equity Portfolio leave to start independent manager

Responsible equity head Van der Velden part of team members departure.

Four senior members of the team responsible for managing PGGM’s innovative €3bn Responsible Equity Portfolio have left the Dutch pension fund manager, including Alex van der Velden, Head of Investments, Responsible Equity Strategies, to start their own firm running a similar responsible equity strategy. Responsible Investor can reveal that the PGGM team members have already left the firm and it is understood that they will launch the new independent manager in the coming months. It is not known who is backing the new set up. The departing team members could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for PGGM said the departees alongside Van der Velden are Antoinette van Lier, Investment Director, Otto van Buul, Portfolio Manager, and Francois Schockaert. PGGM’s Responsible Equity Portfolio is a stand-out investment strategy that is being looked at closely by investors, notably in the light of industry reports including the recent Kay Review by the respected UK economist John Kay, which recommended that pension funds adopt concentrated, long-term portfolios that take into account ESG risks. The Responsible Equity portfolio is a strong conviction, large stake strategy investing in a maximum of 20 companies in developed markets using a highly developed, mixedfinancial and ESG research approach to find good long-term companies. It has grown quickly since being set up by PGGM in January 2009 when it was seeded with €1bn. PGGM has added assets to grow the fund to its €3bn size today: about 10% of its total equities allocation. Presenting the fund at Responsible Investor’s ESG Europe conference in October 2011, Van der Velden said it had beaten its benchmark by 17% to that point since inception. The PGGM spokesperson said the fund manager remained committed to the Responsible Equity Portfolio and that it had appointed Felix Lanters as interim Head of Responsible Equity overseeing the remaining team members.
Lanters was a former Head of European Equity Investments at ABN AMRO Asset Management and more recently has worked on ESG integration with PGGM’s Responsible Investment team.
The Responsible Equity team at PGGM also oversees an €200 million Global Microfinance Investment Program.
PGGM Investments manages €121bn for Dutch pension funds. Its largest client and owners is the Dutch healthcare workers pension fund PFZW with over 2 million beneficiaries in the healthcare sector.

Link to Alex van der Velden’s presentation at ESG Europe 2011