GLOBAL - The United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF) saw its assets fall 11.2%, or $4.5bn (€3.5bn), in the third quarter of 2008.

The pension fund's quarterly report showed at 30 September 2008 the market value of the fund's assets was $35.4bn, down from $39.9bn in June 2008, following a negative investment return of -11.1%.

In a smaller glimmer of postive news, the figures showed the UNJSPF outperformed the benchmark return of -11.2% by 17 basis points over the quarter, while the one-year negative return on investments was -13.9% - again above the benchmark negative return of -15.5%.

The report showed longer'term investment returns was still positive as the pension fund has produced a return of 4.9% over three years and 8.6% over five years - both of which again outperform the scheme's benchmark.

At the end of September 2008, the pension fund - which covers 22 organisations and has more than 106,000 participants and 58,000 beneficiaries - saw its allocation to equities fall slightly over the third quarter from 56.9% of assets to 56.1%.

In addition, investments in bonds also dropped from 36.4% to 32.8% over the three months, while the allocation to real estate increased to 5.2%, while investments to short-term investments increased the most jumping from 2% to 5.9%.

This is in contrast to the scheme's strategic asset allocation in which it aims for a 60% allocation to equities, 31% in bonds, 6% in real estate and just 3% in short-term investment instruments. 

Tthe pension fund revealed in June it had lost a total of $1.5bn in the first half of the year, and with the significant fall in value in the third quarter the overall decline in the UNJSPF was $6bn in the first nine months of 2008. (See earlier IPE article: UN pension fund sees $1.5bn first half loss)

However despite the recent losses, Bernard Cochemé, chief executive of the UNJSPF, issued a statement last month in which he reassured members the pension scheme was "safe", noting the scheme has generated average annual returns of 4.4% since 1960. (See earlier IPE article: UNJSPF 'safe' despite 12.2% drop)

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