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Progress pension fund attributes half of annual return to risk hedge

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Progress, the €5.8bn Dutch pension fund of food and cosmetics giant Unilever, has attributed its 15.4% return for 2014 chiefly to its interest and inflation hedges. 

Commenting on its preliminary figures, it said its combined hedges returned 7.6% over the period, while its return on investments came to 7.8%. 

Progress employed a dynamic interest and inflation cover, which increased or decreased in line with the pension fund’s coverage ratio. 

In 2013, the hedge, through interest and inflation swaps, was 69%.

Progress said almost all investment classes performed well, particularly private equity and real estate, which returned 28.2% and 18.9%, respectively.

The scheme’s fixed income and equity holdings also produced double-digit returns, of 11.7% and 15.4%, respectively.

The only exception was the 6% commodities allocation, which produced a loss of 34.8%.

The pension fund noted that it outperformed its benchmark by 1.3 percentage points for the second consecutive year.

Progress, which used to provide defined benefit arrangements, was closed on 1 April this year.

Since this date, Unilever’s Dutch workers have accrued pension rights in a new collective defined contribution scheme called Forward.

Both pension funds have outsourced their asset management to Univest Company, Unilever’s global asset manager and provider for the company’s pension funds in the UK and the US.

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