AUSTRIA - Valida is the new name for the retirement holding and its subsidiaries like ÖPAG, officials announced today.

The "Vorsorge Holding", created in 2008, together with all its subsidiaries including ÖPAG Pensionskasse, the severance pay fund ÖVK as well as the consultancy PlanPension have been brought together under one name: "Valida Vorsorge Management" (See earlier IPE story: ÖPAG expects 9% return for 2009)

Valida will now comprise Valida Pension, Valida plus (the severance pay fund), Valida Consulting and the Valida Holding, according to Andreas Zakostelsky, who remains chairman of the new group.

"We want people to have one name to go to with questions regarding pension provision; one telephone number to call. It is then up to us to sort out which part of the holding is the right branch to deal with that inquiry," said Zakostelsky.

He also said Valida will aim to deliver understanding of the very complex topic of retirement provision as its unique selling point, and turn its new website into a "service portal" for issues around this topic.

The ÖPAG Pensionskasse reported a return of 10.4% which is above the market average of 9%. (See earlier IPE story: Austrian company funds enjoy a better year

Zakostelsky said the main reason for the outperformance of the fund was its flexibility in equity investments.

"We are long-term investors but at the moment it is very important to be able to quickly adjust the equity exposure," he pointed out.

The quota was below 5% in the first quarter of 2009 and was "quickly increased", but never above 20%.

The Valida Pension is currently aiming to achieve 20-30% exposure to equities, Zakostelsky added.

Other sectors which helped last year's performance were corporate and high-yield bonds, and ÖPAG was overweight in both.

Having been "positioned defensively" in government bonds last year, the fund has now "slightly increased" the duration of this section of the portfolio for 2010, Walter Schmoiger, head of asset management at the Pensionskasse, earlier explained.

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