FINLAND - The €10bn Finish State Pension Fund VER returned 7% for 2006, down from 14.9% in 2005, the fund stated in a preliminary results note.

Asset value of the fund rose from €8.2bn to €10.3bn over the last year. "The value of VER's investments rose significantly during 2006," Timo Löyttyniemi, managing director of the State Pension Fund, commented on the results.

Currently around 40% of the fund's assets are invested in equities, 56% are fixed-income investments and 4% are in alternatives.

In 2007 the fund will increase its exposure to alternatives even further to reach the 10% mark outlined in the strategic benchmark.

"We are planning to invest in real estate (via funds), private equity and absolute return strategies," Löyttyniemi had told IPE in November last year.

Meanwhile, the Finnish private banking group Evli reported a 16.8% return for 2006 for the €9m pension fund it offers under Finland's Employees Pensions Act.

The returns were down slightly from 2005 with a record performance of 22.5% but Antti Pesonen is still pleased with the results. He told IPE that while the fund had suffered from a slight equity crash in May "the last couple of months were really great".

He attributed the good returns to the active investment strategy the fund has in place since its inception in 2001.

Pesonen said that in terms of its investments the fund will stay fairly "conservative" with equity and bond exposure each making up almost half of the portfolio.

The pension scheme is currently 120% funded with asset value having gone up to €9m from €7.5m in 2006.