IRELAND - The €16.3bn National Pensions Reserve had a negative investment return of almost 4% in the second quarter of this year - although it was up in the first six months.

“The National Pensions Reserve Fund today reported a return of 1.3% for the first six months of the year and a return of -3.8% for the quarter,” the fund said.

It said its “relatively high European weighting and the Commission’s decision to maintain an underweight position in bonds in view of the historically low yields of recent years have enabled it to report a positive half year in what is a difficult market environment”.

The fund also revealed that it is close to finalising the €6bn passive equity mandate re-tender competition it announced in March.

It said: “The fund has sought tenders for both traditional passive equity products and also for products which guarantee index returns or pay a premium over index returns.”

It also emerged that it is “close” to selecting a number of pooled currency investment funds.

This would “introduce a limited amount of active management” into its foreign currency exposure.

According the fund’s 2005 annual report, also released today, investment manager fees rose to €19.6m from €16.1m in 2004.

The fund’s overall fees totalled €23.8m - reducing overall performance by 0.2%. That compares to €18.3m in fees in 2004 which took 0.15% from performance.

Securities lending earned it €6.9m (2204: €4.3m) while it gained €1m from brokerage recapture (€1.1m).

During the quarter, the NPRF committed a total of €70m to two property investment vehicles and €215m to six private equity investment vehicles.