NETHERLANDS - Dutch investment funds lost over 5% of their assets during the fourth quarter of last year, leaving their combined assets at €172bn, according to De Nederlandsche Bank.

An €11bn drop in assets, caused mainly by decreasing equity markets, could not be offset by net deposits of €900m, preliminary figures of DNB revealed.

Among the players, pension funds and insurers deposited €1.1bn and €300m respectively in those last three months, while households withdrew €300m, the regulator said.

DNB mainly attributed the reduced asset value of investment funds to the drop in equity markets, at these assets make up one-third of the investment funds' holdings.

During the fourth quarter, equity fell in value by 25%, in line with the losses at the exchanges following the collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank, DNB stated.

In contrast, the value of fixed income investments rose by 3%, thanks to a 5% rise in the value of government bonds, though the regulator made it clear that corporate bonds declined by 2%.

"This difference points to an increased preference for government-issued securities, which are considered a safer investment," suggested the central bank.

DNB estimated Dutch investments funds have lost 30% of their assets since the start of the credit crisis over 18 months ago, though noting one-third of this has been drained through withdrawals.

The equity value of funds has dropped 46% since summer 2007 - when the credit crunch first took hold - though this exceeds the MSCI World index by 4%, according to the watchdog.

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