BELGIUM – Belgian pension funds have produced the highest first-half returns in four years, according to data from ABIP, the Belgian association of pension funds.

The data was derived from the performance of 24 pension funds with four billion euros in assets under management, accounting for more than 50% of Belgium’s second pillar.

According to ABIP, the funds returned 3.47% for the first half of this year. The last first half period to see positive results was in 2000, with 2.05%. The first six months of 2001 and 2002 produced returns of –1.07% and –5.81% respectively.

The association added that the figures correspond to an annualised return 7.06% if current trends continue – more than the 6.46% predicted in July.

Hugo Clemeur, general secretary at ABIP, attributes the positive performance to the upturn in markets. “The markets have slightly improved, and in addition interest rates have come down over the last six months so that bonds have performed well also.”

As far as Clemeur is aware, no major shifts in asset allocation among Belgian pension funds have taken place. “Although it is possible that the large pension funds which were holding lots of cash have reinvested,” he said.