NETHERLANDS - Dutch pension funds' returns on direct investments - and on listed companies in particular - have consistently increased since 2006.

Between the last quarter of 2006 and the third quarter of 2007, pension schemes received a total of €19.6bn from tradable investments, pensions regulator De Nederlandsche Bank has reported.

Returns from equity and fixed income were €10.4bn and €9.2bn respectively during this period, said the DNB.

More specifically, despite the limited expansion of the pension funds' equity portfolios, the increase in received dividends was relatively large as the sum of dividends received during the first three quarters of 2007 almost equalled the amount for the full year 2006, according to DNB.

This contrasts to the fixed income market as returns on interest have hardly risen in the surveyed period, the regulator noted.

According to DNB, over 80% of equity and fixed income portfolios of pension funds now consist of foreign securities.

Over three-quarters of received dividends, and even 90% of received interest, originated abroad. These figures tally with the schemes' cross-border positions, DNB said.

DNB statistics show returns on direct investments of pension funds totalled €17.6bn in 2006. The total of paid benefits and received contributions was €19.1bn and €23bn respectively.

At the same time, the total cost of investment management services was €1.9bn, while other management costs amounted to €1bn, the regulator said.

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