IRELAND - Equity rallies helped Setanta Asset Management record the best return for Irish managed pension funds in August, although the sector is still down 18.5% over the last 12 months, Rubicon Investment Consulting has revealed.

The latest monthly figures showed the average return of group pension managed funds was 2% in August, while the lowest return - recorded by Standard Life Investments - was still 1.1%.

Canada Life/Setanta were the best performers in August with a return of 3.2%, although over the year-to-date it has returned -11.5%,while over the 12 months to August 2008 the firm saw a negative return on pension managed funds of -14.3%.

Oppenheim Investment Managers also produced a positive result of 2.6%, while Hibernian Investment Managers yielded 2.5%, and at the opposite end of the scale Irish Life Investment Mangers still reported a return of 1.4%, just above Standard Life, while Eagle Star recorded a 1.7% return.

Despite the positive August performance, the figures from Rubicon showed all the funds are still in negative territory for 2008, with an average fall of -15.2%, while over a 12-month period the average loss is slightly higher at -18.5%.

Rubicon said the improved performance was the result of equity market rallies as the oil price declined and the dollar strengthened against most major currencies, with the Irish equity market returning 3.3% over the month, while the Eurozone index returned 1.2%.

That said, the figures also confirmed Irish equities have produced the worst returns in the year-to-date with a negative return of -33.5%, while the Eurozone stocks recorded a negative yield of -20.3%, leaving the North America index to produce the best return - on a Euro currency basis - of -11.2%.

However, Rubicon claimed as the investment horizon of pension schemes is generally over 25 years, taken in this light the performance of the funds is more positive, with a 15-year average return of 7.2% - based on nine funds - while over 20 years the average yield from six funds was 8%.

The figures from Rubicon follow the latest results of the Hewitt Managed Fund Index, which reported an average return of 2.4%, while the average yield for the eight months of 2008 was -15.1%. (See earlier IPE article: Irish funds post positive return in August)

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