BELGIUM – Belgian pension funds moved towards equities last year and returned 9.75% amid renewed investment confidence, the national association says.

The Belgian Association of Pension Institutions surveyed 25 funds representing nearly half of total sector assets of €11bn and found that the average weighted return for 2004 was 9.75%.

The average equity allocation has risen to 48% from 44% in 2003, with bonds showing a “moderate” increase of nearly two percent.

Cash has fallen to two percent from a “staggering” nine percent a year ago – which was “a strong indication of renewed investment confidence”.

“The excellent return suggests a further improvement of funding levels for Belgian DB funds,” the association said.

The schemes returned 9.3% in 2003, when funding was at 126.3%. They’ve returned a nominal 7.6% on average over the past 20 years, and 7.3% over 10 years.

The average portfolio now comprises 48% equity, 41% bonds and six percent real estate.