AUSTRIA - VBV, Austria's largest pension fund, sees opportunities in future "emerging market debt" exposure in Southern Europe, according to Michaela Attermeyer, head of asset management at the €5bn fund.

The VBV - winner of this year's IPE Austria Country Award - tends to focus on core euro countries such as Germany, Austria and the Netherlands in its bond portfolio.

When it comes to emerging market government bonds, however, Attermeyer told IPE she was cautious.

"Too much money has already flown into this asset class already," she said.
Attermeyer said she was therefore considering a different kind of "emerging market debt" exposure, such as Italian or Spanish bonds.

"Why should we go to Asia or Latin America when it might make sense again some day to invest in the 'emerging markets' at our doorstep," she said.

Attermeyer said the time was not yet right for such a move, but added that the VBV aimed to prepare for this scenario.

She stressed that the prerequisite was the establishment of a sustainable solution for Europe's sovereign debt crisis.

Currently, the VBV uses emerging market corporates as diversification in its bond portfolio, which mainly comprises investment-grade corporate bonds and covered bonds (Pfandbriefe) from Germany and Austria.

Speaking at the IPE Awards Seminar in Brussels in November, Amin Rajan, chief executive at CREATE-Research, made similar statements respecting Southern European debt.

He said some pension funds might see re-packaged Southern European debt as an interesting investment opportunity.