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Belgian schemes boost UCITS investments

BELGIUM - Belgian pension schemes have raised their investments in UCITS to more than three-quarters of their total assets, according to a survey from the Belgian Association of Pension Institutions.

UCITS assets now account for 76.8% of total assets at the schemes surveyed as at the end of 2004 - up from 65.5% four years earlier.

The association said the reasons for this are "diversification opportunities, especially for smaller funds, and tax motives".

"In fact pension funds are the only institutions of the sector of complementary pensions that still have to pay non-recoverable withholding tax on investment income." UCITS investments allow them to avoid this tax.

The survey covered 120 pension funds with total assets of €8.7bn, or 75% of total sector assets. The funds account for 420,000 active members. UCITS funds - Undertakings for the Collective Investment of Transferable Securities - can be marketed within all countries that are a part of the European Union.

The association said the weighting of equities has decreased from 44.2% in 2003 to 43.7% in 2004. It said: "The results show a rebalancing into non-euro European equity and out of dollar and even euro equity." Bonds' share rose to 39.9% from 39.5% in 2002.

Real estate is growing at a "hefty pace" - up to 7.2% from 4.4% in 2001.

It said that in 2004 the overall funding level rose to 131.0% from 121.5% a year before.

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