IRELAND - Irish group pension managed funds fell an average of 1.9% in January continuing the downward trend that led to a 34.8% loss in 2008, according to figures from Rubicon Investment Consulting.

Figures from the firm's January survey of 10 group managed pension funds showed Standard Life Investments produced the best performance in the first month of 2009 with a fall of just 0.5%.

Merrion Investment Managers also performed well with a return of -1.3%, closely followed by Friends first/F&C with a -1.6% return, while Aviva Investors and Bank of Ireland Asset Managers also outperformed the average loss of 1.9% with returns of -1.7% and -1.8% respectively.

However, Irish Life Investment Management (ILIM) and Canada Life/Setanta produced the worst results, as both returned -2.7%, which is in contrast to Canada Life/Setanta's performance in December when it produced the highest return of -1.5%. (See earlier IPE article: Irish pensions drop €27bn in 2008)

Rubicon Investment Consulting attributed the continued fall to the "raft of negative economic news" in January, although it admitted the average managed fund return has been an "extremely disappointing" -11.7% over the past three years.

The average fund return in the 12 months to the end of January was -31.4%, with returns ranging from -27% from Eagle Star to -35.1% to Aviva Investors, while the five year returns were also negative, with an average result of -1.6%.

Rubicon also claimed Irish group pension managed fund returns have been "very disappointing" over the last decade with a return of -0.4% per year, well below the inflation rate of 3.6% per year, as it said "none of the managers surveyed outperformed inflation over this period, with over half of the managers failing to deliver positive returns".

Meanwhile, Hewitt Associates has published the figures from its monthly Hewitt Managed Fund Index, which reported a fall of 2% in the index and an average return of -1.5% among the 23 funds included in its survey.

The figures showed the best performing fund in January was run by Acorn Life, which actually produced a positive return of 1.2%, while the next best result was recorded by AIBIM Multi-manager with a return of -0.4%.

Hewitt also reported Canada Life/Setanta and ILIM as delivering the worst returns, although AIBIM was only slightly ahead with a return of -2.5%, while KBCAM and Canada Life Consensus both produced -2.2%.

Over the last year, however, Hewitt places Canada Life/Setanta as the third-best performer with a return of -27.8%, only beaten by Davy/Aberdeen with a result of -23.7%, and Eagle Star with a yield of -27%.

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