IRELAND - The Irish National Reserve Fund has returned 5.2% so far this year, following a -16.1% return in 2002.

"The year-to-date return on the fund to last Friday, 18 July was 5.2%," said the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission in a statement accompanying its 2002 annual report. The market value at that date was 8.4 billion euros.

The Commission says the fund returned -16.1% in 2002. It says this compares to a notional return of -21.6% for its long-term strategic benchmark, and a -18.9% return on the average Irish pension fund in the same period.

It says annualised performance since launch is -7.9%, compared to -11.6% for the average Irish fund.

"Overall the performance has been relatively robust in the prevailing market conditions," said commission chairman Donal Geaney in the annual report.

The fund reviewed its broad asset allocation of 80% equities and 20% bonds during 2002, due to the declines in the equities markets. "In sum, the Commission decided that the rational for the strategy was still valid despite stockmarket falls," it says.

The annual report reveals that investment managers' fees in 2002 were 5.9 million euros, with global custody fees at 1.3 million euros. It says it monitors each manager on a daily basis.

As at the end of December 2002, 56.9% of its assets, or 4.2 billion euros, were in equities. It had 17.4%, or 1.3 billion euros, in bonds and 24.8%, 1.8 billion euros, on deposit.