EUROPE - Several asset managers and UK pension funds that were once optimistic about the EU's bailout of Greece now fear the country could be pushed from the euro-zone before the end of this year.

At a debate held by Henderson Global Investors as part of its one-day trustee seminar 'Investing in volatile markets', the majority of trustees and asset managers surveyed - even those that expect the euro-zone to survive the sovereign crisis - believe Greece is likely to bow out before Christmas.

Paul Casson, manager of the Henderson Horizon Pan European Alpha fund, who argued for the euro's survival, said: "Greece, if you want my opinion, will be out by Christmas. It's already behaving like a country that knows this will happen.

"They haven't sold a single asset, they are not meeting any of their deficit targets, and they simply do not fulfil the criteria for further bail-outs."

Casson said there was a key difference between the survival of the euro and the preservation of the status quo.

"Other countries need not leave," he said. "Look at the Irish bond markets, for example. It has completely decoupled from the other peripheral countries. And, of course, the ramifications of the euro breaking up are at least as difficult for the countries that stay in as for those which leave."

Other asset managers such as Threadneedle have agreed that Greece will leave the euro-zone due to its high level of debt and the growing belief the country will refuse the rescue package set up by the EU, as the economic consequences will be seen as too restrictive.

Mark Burgess, chief investment officer, said: "We are increasingly of the view that Greece will exit the euro. This is going to be an extremely painful event, similar to the European financial system experiencing a heart attack."

He said the only question was whether Greece's exit would be coordinated - accompanied by a state-funded recapitalising of the banking system, a cut in rates and a massive injection of liquidity - or uncoordinated.

"If it is the former," he said, "then it is potentially positive, and markets can ultimately move on and move forward.

"For Greece, it would be an extremely unpleasant and traumatic event, but, properly planned and implemented, would at least give them the chance to move on."