AUSTRIA - Austrian pension funds returned 6.6% on average over the last year, bringing the long-term average to almost 6% per year.

Assets in the 17 Austrian Pensionskassen grew by €1.1bn to €14.8bn, including an €800m return from investments.

The rest was generated from 300 new contracts with Austrian companies and new joiners to existing contracts, bringing the number of people in Pensionskassen to more than 770,000.

The average equity quota was at 30% last year, while the average exposure to government bonds was 45%.

Another 10-12% was allocated to corporate bonds, 7-8% to alternatives - mainly private equity and funds of hedge funds, as well as real estate funds - and the rest in cash.

Andreas Zakostelsky, head of the Austrian Pensionskassen association, said there was a growing trend toward diversification into emerging-market sovereign debt.

Apart from the usual BRIC and CEE exposure, Zakostelsky noted that Austrian funds were looking more toward the 'Next 11', including Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam.

For this year, he expects a small increase in the funds' emerging market exposure - "maybe by one or two percentage points". 

No new developments were reported regarding the planned amendments to the pension fund law, which had been put on hold last autumn when the debate on the federal budget dominated the political landscape.