Edith Schippers, Chairman of the PDN Board and President of DSM Europe, Eiko de Vries, PDN Board Member, and Cor van der Sluis, Chairman of the PDN Supervisory Board, answer questions in response to an article in NRC that is based on a mix of opinions, interpretations, and views. The article does not do justice to the relationship between DSM and PDN over the past 20 years. We disagree with the image that has been presented. Unfortunately, we were not offered the opportunity to review the final article in advance in order to check the facts.
DSM and PDN would like to answer several questions to clear up any misunderstandings that may arise as a result of this article.
Edith Schippers, President of DSM Europe and also Chairman of the PDN Board and Eiko de Vries, PDN Board member, appear on screen to answer questions that could arise as a result of the article. In the video, Cor van der Sluis, Chairman of the PDN Supervisory Board, also outlines the pension fund’s orderly governance and ethical management.
You can view the answer to each question below.
Facts and figures about PDN Pension Fund (Pensioenfonds PDN).
15 companies are affiliated with PDN. PDN has 5,600 active members, almost 13,000 pensioners, and 8,700 deferred members. Of the active members, around 45% works at DSM but after the sale of the materials business, this fell to around a third. This means that two thirds of PDN’s active members work at one of the other affiliated companies. The total invested capital is approximately eight billion euros.
The NRC publication gave the impression that DSM ‘made a grab for pension cash.’ In fact, in 2006 the DSM Chemicals pension fund merged with Gist Brocades pension fund to form a new Pensioenfonds DSM Nederland (PDN). At that point, DSM made a deposit into the pension fund. Part of the agreement between the social partners and the pension fund was that if reserves were high, contributions would be reduced.
Edith Schippers explains:
The NRC publication incorrectly suggested that an internal memo from 2019 was withheld. This concerns an internal analysis of public data. These data were also shared with representatives of all stakeholders. However, the preliminary conclusion was never endorsed by the Board and this was, therefore, never distributed.
Edith Schippers explains:
In 2016, the Royal DSM NV Supervisory Board granted the then CEO Feike Sijbesma a one-off additional bonus as partial compensation for the fact that his remuneration had already been below DSM’s own policy for ten years. The one-off bonus was deposited as a pension contribution and this was reported clearly and transparently.
Edith Schippers clarifies that bonus:
When the new pension fund was created, it was promised that DSM would never ‘turn its back on the pension fund’. What is meant by this? Edith Schippers explains what she found in the archives.
It was suggested that ‘millions disappeared’ from the Pension Fund. Eiko de Vries, Board member of Pensioenfonds DSM Nederland (PDN), explained that DSM paid well over the legal requirement between 2006 and 2010.
PDN's funding level amounted to over 140% in 2006. Eiko de Vries explains the difference between the independence of a pension fund in 2006 (before the credit crunch) and 2008 (after the credit crunch).
PDN's financial situation has improved significantly since the end of 2021. PDN was able index pensions again somewhat in June 2022 for the first time in a long time. Indexation for 2023 is substantial, at 10.02% for pensioners and 3.11% for active members. Elko de Vries explains why indexation did not take place earlier.
The fund’s financial situation has now greatly improved, but some members are still concerned. Eiko de Vries explains how the Board is seeking a balanced weighing of interests:
We are familiar with the arguments about a limited number of pensioners being angry about decisions made by DSM and PDN some 17 years ago. They are also dissatisfied with indexation and believe that indexation should be maximized. Eiko de Vries states: ‘let’s keep talking with each other’.
Cor van der Sluis, Chairman of the PDN Supervisory Board, clarifies the role of the Supervisory Board in the daily running of the pension fund and stressed the importance of balancing interests.
Two members of the Supervisory Board stepped down last year. Cor van der Sluis explains why they did this.