Deka in Frankfurt

The fund service provider of the savings banks, like other shareholders, must raise funds for the savings banks pension funds.

(Photo: imago / Christine Roth)

Frankfurt Several companies from the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe support the Sparkassen Pensionskasse from Cologne. The pension fund needs a financial injection in order to be able to reliably meet its obligations to its customers over the long term.

The Sparkassen Pensionskasse said on request that the shareholders provided 280 million euros. Previously, the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported that the shareholders urgently need to plug a hole in the balance sheet of 280 million euros. Half of the Sparkasse fund service providers, Deka, as the largest shareholder, and 13 insurers from the Sparkassen group each raised the sum.

Deka also confirmed that it had made a provision of 140 million euros. CEO Georg Stocker already said in April when the figures for 2019 were presented that Deka would strengthen the capital base of S-Pension-Management. The Sparkassen Pensionskasse is a subsidiary of S-Pensions-Management.

The Sparkassen pension fund, contrary to what its name suggests, does not manage retirement benefits for employees of Sparkassen, but for employees of other companies. According to the “Süddeutscher Zeitung”, this is about the company pension scheme for almost 350,000 employees and pensioners. The newspaper quotes an insider with the fact that the difficulties of the Sparkassen pension fund can be attributed to the low interest rates, not to individual management mistakes.

The Sparkassen pension fund further stated that it had “always and fully fulfilled the guarantee obligations of its customers”. She is currently able to do this without any problems. “So that this is ensured in the medium and long term, given the historically low capital market interest rates and volatile stock markets, measures to strengthen equity and risk-bearing capacity have now been adopted.” The concrete implementation will be coordinated with the financial supervisory authority Bafin and the financial authorities in the next few weeks.

In general, it is expected that more and more pension funds will experience problems in meeting the sometimes relatively high interest rate guarantees of the past in the medium and long term. Because in the ongoing phase of low interest rates, they struggle to achieve sufficient returns with their assets to finance their company pensions. Pension funds are subject to relatively strict requirements and have therefore invested a particularly significant part of their pension capital in low-yield bonds. Several health insurance funds have already run into difficulties and have had to cut company pensions.

The financial supervision Bafin therefore monitors a significant part of the pension funds more closely than usual. Currently 36 of 135 pension funds are under special control by the Bafin.

At the beginning of the year, the Bafin had made it clear that pension funds were even more affected by the low interest rate phase than life insurers. Frank Grund, head of the Bafin insurance supervision, said at the time: “We need considerable support from the employers as sponsors at some insurance companies.”

For the first time at the end of 2018, financial supervision had prohibited a pension fund from concluding new contracts, increasing existing ones and accepting more people. The Caritas pension fund was affected. In other cases, companies have transferred money to their pension fund, some of which are very large.

More: According to a court decision, company pensions may not be reduced disproportionately.