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Vervoer to launch working group on illiquid assets next year

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Vervoer, the Dutch pension fund for the transport sector, is to convene a working group on illiquid assets next year, as it considers direct lending and investing in bank loans.

The €14.5bn fund’s CIO Patrick Groenendijk told IPE’s On The Record that it would look at “all types” of illiquid assets in 2014, but that the nature of the asset classes demanded that it prepare well in advance for any allocation.

“We are planning to form an internal working group in 2014 to study illiquid investments before making up our minds later in the year as to which ones to invest in,” he said.

Groenendijk added that, while he currently did not consider equities cheap, they were still an attractive proposition, especially companies listed in the US.

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“In Europe, investors need to be more selective about which markets to pick,” he said.

His caution was shared by Timo Ritakallio, the deputy chief executive and CIO at Ilmarinen.

Ritakallio said the €32bn Finnish pensions mutual still regarded the European market as attractive, but added: “Share prices have been rising – in some markets very dramatically – which is why we have been careful with new investment decisions.”

He was more positive about opportunities in 2014 among emerging markets.

“It has been a tough year for emerging markets, so the outlook at least for some regions has improved,” he said.

Developing markets were also of interest for the CIO of UMR Corem, Philippe Rey.

In charge of €6bn in assets at Corem, Rey said the fund had decided to redirect some of its equity portfolio from the BRIC countries towards frontier markets.

“Frontier markets are cheap and have a positive growth outlook, which is why we expect good performances from, for example, Argentine, Bangladeshi, Kenyan and Iraqi equities,” he said.

Rey further predicted that equity markets would remain bullish, with France’s CAC 40 Index likely to breach 4,800 by the end of 2014.

The index closed at 4,295 at the end of November.

More on Groenendijk, Ritakallio and Rey’s outlook for 2014 can be found in On The Record in the current issue of IPE.

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