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Equity markets boost large Dutch schemes in first quarter

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Equity performance helped some of the Netherlands’ largest pension funds achieve returns of more than 2% during the first quarter.

The €5.6bn sector scheme PNO Media said it returned 2.5% on investments, attributing the result in particular to a 7.6% profit on its equity portfolio. Equities make up more than a third (36.5%) of its overall portfolio.

The equity yield more than compensated losses on government bonds (-2.8%) and mortgages (-0.2%) in the wake of rising interest rates.

Private equity (3.9%), emerging market debt (2.1%), property (1.5%) and infrastructure (0.4%) also delivered positive results for the media scheme, which saw its funding rise by 2.1 percentage points to 93.5%.

Other pension funds also posted positive quarterly results largely as a consequence of rising equity markets. In addition, rising interest rates led to a reduction of liabilities, meaning coverage ratios also improved.

The €8.5bn Pensioenfonds Vliegend Personeel KLM made 2.2% on its investments, with equity generating 6.1%.

The scheme noted that US high yield bonds and emerging market debt had also benefited from positive equity market sentiment, resulting in an overall return of 0.3% from its fixed income portfolio. KLM said it made a similar profit on its property holdings.

The KLM scheme’s funding rose almost 3 percentage points to 117.4%.

Equity and emerging market debt were also the main drivers behind the 1.2% quarterly result from the €18.8bn company scheme of Philips.

However, it indicated that it had lost 0.7 percentage points due to negative results on its combined interest and inflation hedge.

During last quarter, the Philips Pensioenfonds reduced its fixed income allocation from 60% to 50% – through selling euro-denominated government bonds – as it expected an interest rate rise in the coming years.

It has reinvested the proceeds in cash as well as asset classes that are less susceptible to interest rates, such as equity and property.

The Philips scheme closed the quarter with a coverage ratio of 110.3%.

Finally, the €24.5bn Pensioenfonds PGB reported a quarterly result of 2%, citing profits on equity (6.2%), property (2.4%), infrastructure (3.1%) and private equity (4.2%). In contrast, it lost 2% on its government bonds allocation.

In particular, PGB said its French inflation-linked bonds lost 5.1% due to the possibility that the National Front or a candidate of the extreme left could win the first round of presidential elections.

At March-end, PGB’s funding stood at 98.4%.

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