Oman gov't plans pension fund merger

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The Oman government is planning to merge the assets of up to 10 pension funds in an apparent move to save costs and enhance efficiencies when investing the funds into stock markets, it was reported.

However, it is understood the move will not affect the pension obligations or systems of the individual funds.

Oman has as many as ten pension funds, which include major players like the Public Authority for Social Insurance (Paci), Royal Oman Police Pension Fund, Ministry of Civil Service Pension Fund, Royal Guard of Oman Pension Fund, Internal Security Services Pension Fund and Diwan of Royal Court Employees Pension Fund, the Times of Oman reported.

Financial Affairs Minister Darwish bin Ismail Al Balushi said the government planned the merger sometime back, but it was delayed amid the financial crisis.

"All these crises had an impact on investors in entering the capital market,” he was quoted as saying. “A decision was taken to wait until a clear picture emerges.”

He said a study into the merger was underway, but collective management would increase efficiency and result in better returns on investment.

Analysts estimate that 20 percent of the market capitalisation of listed companies on the Muscat Securities Market (MSM) is through pension funds. With the growth in the number of employees in the public sector, the size of the pension funds are also growing.

Market sources said that with the merger of pension funds, the size of the corpus fund will grow significantly.

“With the merger, there will be better cost savings and synergies,” an analyst told the Times. “The pension funds will be able to plan their strategies in a bigger level. Now, different pension funds have varying strategies in deploying funds in the market.”

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