POLAND - The second-pillar pension fund Ergo Hestia administered by Aegon's Polish subsidiary saw its assets reduced by 2.4% in August. (updates with comments from Aegon)

The fund's value dropped from PLN3.05bn (€806m) at the end of July to PLN2.98bn at the end of August.

The 2.4% loss was three times higher than the average Polish pension fund loss of 0.8%.

Total assets in the 15 Polish second-pillar pension funds amounted to PLN136.34bn compared to PLN137.45bn a month ago.

Losses suffered by all pension funds by lower share returns and bond yields were accentuated by the third transfer session for this year.

Polish pension fund members can opt to switch funds four times a year. Research firm analizy estimates in August PLN1.1bn have been switched between funds.

Looking at the July results, which are uninfluenced by transfer sessions, Aegon's fund only lost as much as the average of 0.6%.

Aegon noted judging by returns alone its fund was the second best performer in the market in August. The loss in asset value "was not caused by poor investment performance, it was caused only by clients withdrawal from the fund," Dariusz Salata, member of the board at Aegon Poland, told IPE.

"We have just started offering a pension fund via its networks, so we expect positive change soon. We also potentially expect loosing clients after the merge with Skarbiec Emerytura Pension Fund."

In June Aegon announced it is preparing to merge its pension fund with the one of BRE Bank, OFE Skarbiec-Emerytura.

This fund lost 1.9% over the last month bringing its assets down to PLN2.21bn.

Combined, Aegon and BRE's pension fund would have reduced its assets by 2.1% to PLN6.41bn. This would have seen the fund sharing last place with Nordea's PLN4.79bn fund.

The government's social security service ZUS has paid PLN2.4bn in contributions into the mandatory system in August compared to PLN1.1bn in July.  The pension funds, in turn, pay the ZUS a fee for collection contributions.

Contributions vary on a monthly basis because of backlogs in the security system and delayed provision of information as well as the level of employment and changes in wages.