IRELAND- A sharp downturn in global equity markets has led pooled, mixed asset pension funds in Ireland to fall by 10% in the second quarter of the year according to figures from Mercer Investment Consulting in Dublin.

The global equity index was down 20% in the second quarter of the year. US equities recorded the largest drop at 23.6% while Euroland equities fell 14.8%.

Irish equities were the best performers after the Japanese market, with a fall of 7.9%, due to the defensive structure of the market and a high exposure to financials which performed relatively well over the quarter.

Mercer’s quarterly report on the Irish pooled market surveys investment managers representing over 200 of the country’s pension funds holding a collective e30bn.

The drop takes the three year return on Ireland’s pooled pension funds to zero. Five year returns, the most recent positive figure, stand at 7.2% while the corresponding ten year figure is 12.1%.

Tom Geraghty, senior investment consultant at Mercer IC in Dublin, says there are reasons for optimism in that the asset value of a typical Irish pension fund is the same as it was at the end of last September.

“In effect, the dismal returns in the second quarter of 2002 have simply cancelled out the rebound in markets experienced in the fourth quarter of 2001,” he says.

Figures for segregated accounts in Ireland are not published although Geraghty says the pooled figures are similar.