Fondo Pensione Cometa – Italy’s biggest industry-wide pension fund, with €9.6bn in assets – has announced a major investment shift in which it is taking an active approach for most of its assets and tendering up to 14 mandates.

The fund said that, apart from getting the best return for its members, it was also important the assets be managed along responsible investment lines and contribute to Italy’s development.

Annamaria Trovò, president of the fund, said: “The role of the Cometa fund has always been to invest the assets entrusted to us by our members in the best way to guarantee them the greatest pension cover.”

But at the same time, she said, the fund believes it should not limit itself to this but rather become a guide in the definition of responsible investment parameters, while also contributing the the development of the country.

The Cometa pension fund, which has 402,000 members and covers the engineering and related sectors, said it would publish details of the mandates in the first few days of April.

Applicants will then have 30 days from that date to submit their bids.

The mandates will be for €8.3bn of Cometa’s €9.6bn of overall assets, and involve the management of assets in three portfolios: monetary plus, income and growth.

The only assets not included in the tender are those backing the two guaranteed pension portfolios, a spokesman said.

Up to now, the three portfolios in the tender have been managed using a mix of passive and active investment, but the mandates to be offered will all be for active management.

In an interview in Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, shown on Cometa’s website, Trovò said: “We are moving from investing according to a benchmark to active investment with controlled risk.

“We have discussed this at length in the council, and, in the light of current markets, we have come to the conclusion the moment has come to change.”

The mandates will run for five years.

Within the monetary plus portfolio, a minimum of two and maximum of three bond-type mandates will be granted, with this portfolio underpinning pension savings for members close to retirement.

At least four – but as many as eight – multi-asset total return mandates will be granted within the income portfolio, which aims to provide a yield in line with the TFR (trattamento di fine rapporto, or severance pay).

Within the growth portfolio, Cometa said it envisaged granting at least two and at most three active multi-asset mandates with controlled risk.

This portfolio targets pension scheme members with a risk/return profile and time horizon suited to profiting from the higher volatility of these instruments, the pension fund said.