BELGIUM – Belgacom pension fund, Belgian’s largest, has released its 2002 figures, which show a negative return of 7.5%.

Negative returns were attributed to the falling equity markets. Equity investments for the fund returned –30.9%, while fixed income investments returned +7.8%.

The underperformance against the benchmark, which returned –6.7%, was partly attributed by the fund to the benchmark being gross of all costs while the fund has working costs.

The fund also noted that important reshuffles in 2002 and the fact that several active managers had underperformed their individual benchmarks were also responsible for the poor relative return.

Several restructurings have already taken place this year, says Belgacom. The benchmark calculation methodology has been adapted to generate a better measurement tool of active risk and it has been recommended to increase emerging markets and international equities within the portfolio.

For the rest of 2003, the fund will finalise its global equity public tenders and assess the usefulness of investing in other asset classes in order to further diversify the portfolio.

As of end of December 2002, the pension fund portfolio was invested 52.4% in bonds, 44.9% in equities, and the remaining 2.7% in cash. 47% of the fund was covered by passive mandates, and 10 external portfolio managers were employed.

The market value of the portfolio managed externally at the end of 2002 was 3.3 billion euros, an increase of 16 million euros compared with the end of 2001. Investment losses for the year amounted to 250 million euros. 457 million euros was contributed by Belgacom to the pension fund, 266 million euros of which was reinvested.

Commenting on the annual results, chairman Michel Dussenne said: “Despite the particularly difficult economic climate, our pension fund has been able to limit the decline in its results, inter alia by ensuring the broadest possible portfolio diversification.”

“Another indication of the pension fund’s health is the ration of the net assets of the pension fund to the minimum assets the fund must hold under law,” he added.

Based on actuarial calculations, the statutory minimum was 2.5 billion euros at the end of 2003.