NETHERLANDS - SBZ, the industry-wide pension fund for care insurers, said it has decreased its investments in property by 5% to 10% of its total portfolio and will focus its immediate attention on Dutch direct real estate.

At least 75% of its investments will be hedged against currency risks while interest risks will also be fully hedged, the scheme stated in its annual report.

These latest changes accompany SBZ's new investment plan, aimed at optimising its investment portfolio, were introduced as of 1 July 2007, when ABN Amro Asset Management and Russell Investment Group took over as fiduciary managers.

The €2.4bn pension fund reported returns on investments of 7.25%, albeit this was down 50% compared with the returns of the previous year and exactly in line with the 10-year average.

The scheme is cautiously forecasting returns of 5.4% for 2007, which is similar to the initial expectation for 2006.

Equity returned 15.8%, while fixed income generated a negative yield of -0.8% because of negative divestment results and the drop of the US dollar, and a return of 6.2% on property - considerably under the benchmark, according to SBZ.

Although equity fell 1% short of the company's benchmark, the overweighting of equity and the underweighting of fixed income nevertheless resulted in the out-performance of the overall benchmark.

A total of 52% of SBZ's investments are now in sustainable companies, the scheme estimated but a a new policy on sustainable investment will be formulated later this year, the scheme said.

SBZ has granted its 21,930 deferred participants and pensioners an indexation of 1% and decided the 62 participating employers will pay the indexation for the 18,725 working members.

The coverage ratio of the industry pension fund rose by 5% to 134% last year.

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