BELGIUM - Belgian pension funds delivered median returns of 16.8% in 2005, according to new research by Mercer Human Resource Consulting - almost double 2004's 8.6%.

Mercer's research is based on an analysis of 100 active funds, which represent two-thirds of the 150 active funds in Belgium. The study analyses 136 investment portfolios with total assets of €6.2bn. The median fund has returned 7.74% over the past 10 years.

"The strong results in 2005 are largely due to the fact that Belgian pension funds continued to invest in their traditional asset classes," said Mercer partner Willy Santermans.

"Following the stock market slump that started in March 2000 and lasted approximately three years, they maintained nearly half their assets in equities."

Equities returned 27.9% in 2005 while real estate yielded 22.9% - although it only represents 3.2% of assets. Mercer added: "The investments in bonds, although showing a decent 5.0%, rather slowed down the overall returns."

Equities account for 53% of assets while fixed income is at 38%.

"Taking into account the investments in real estate as well as liquid assets, the European region pulls in no less than 70% of Belgian pension fund investments," added Santermans.

Meanwhile, Mercer has named Mark Green as European head of benefits outsourcing. He will be based in London and joins from MBNA Europe Bank.

"This appointment reflects our commitment to growing our benefits outsourcing businesses in the UK and Ireland and to developing our capabilities in key continental markets," said Paul O'Faherty, European Head of HR Services.