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PNO Media to test SRI policy

NETHERLANDS - Media PNO will seek member feedback on its revised socially-responsible investment (SRI) policy later this year, after employers earlier threatened to withdraw membership unless they changed their stance.

Details of the €2.7bn industry-wide pension fund's second-quarter results reveal PNO, the pensions provider for 345 employers, is intending to test its SRI code and procedures against the "conception of standards and values of society" and on its participants.

Little information is given at this stage as to how the new standards and policy will be tested.

However, its increased focus on SRI was triggered earlier this year by the small broadcaster Llink, which said it would leave PNO if it didn't change its investment policy.

The pension fund has subsequently sharpened its SRI policy, divested "less desirable" investments and published its equity investments on its website, the fund said.

Along with brief details of the SRI review, the fund's results show equity and private equity were the best performing asset classes in the second quarter, returning 6.7% and 5.1% respectively.

The €2.7bn scheme achieved a total return of 2.8%, thereby exceeding its benchmark by 0.3%, it reported while its coverage ratio rose by 8% to 129%, thanks to the increased market interest rates which in turn also led to a drop in liabilities of 5.8%.

In contrast but in line with market activity elsewhere, PNO's fixed income portfolio yielded a negative return of -1.6%, while returns on property and commodities were 0.1% and nil respectively.

According to the scheme, it had slightly reduced its exposure to fixed income to 38%, in favour of its investments in private equity, which had been increased to 5% of its total portfolio.

During the second quarter, PNO also appointed a new external asset manager its for short-term bonds to replace a short-term private loans mandate.

PNO has 15,300 active participants, 12,435 deferred members and 5,850 pensioners.

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