Pension funds bet 70 million euros on Stock Exchange

Private pension funds have constantly boosted their capital market exposure in the past year, with their investments in listed stocks now standing at 283 million lei (67 million euros), 16-fold more than a year ago.

Thus, in late January, mandatory pension funds (pillar II) had investments worth 253 million lei in shares, while voluntary ones had 30 million lei, according to the data provided by the Private Pension System Supervision Commission. The percentage of stock investments in total assets stands at 10 percent in the case of mandatory funds, compared to 1.5 percent a year ago, and at 14 percent in the case of voluntary ones, compared to 4.7 percent in January 2009.

“Looking at the maximum percentage the pension funds can invest in listed stock, 30-50 percent in assets, depending on the risk rate, we can see there is much room for growth. This year will also be a year of cautious capital market exposure growth,” Ziarul Financiar daily quotes Simona Ditescu, general manager of BCR private pension manager, as saying.

As for the stocks funds invest in, Ditescu says they are mainly blue chips, ie the most important listed stocks, with high liquidity. The blue-chips include the shares of Petrom, the Romanian Development Bank (BRD)-SocGen, the Transilvania Bank, the Carpatica Bank, the Financial Investment Companies (SIFs), Transelectrica, Transgaz, Rompetrol and others.

“Liquidity is the problem on the local market, you cannot afford, as a pension fund, to buy shares for which you cannot subsequently find a buyer. I believe that this year the exposure per shares will grow by approximately five percent at the market level,” believes the general manager of BCR Pensions.

In 2009, the stock investments proved to be profitable for the pension funds: BET index (monitoring the ten most important stocks of the Bucharest Stock Exchange) went up by 62 percent, BET-FI (monitors the evolution of SIFs) – up by 90 percent, and BET-C (monitors the evolution of all stocks) – up by 37 percent. Starting with the beginning of 2010 and up to the present, BET went up by 12 percent, as BET-C and BET-FI grew 27 percent. Only 2 percent of the pension funds’ assets are invested in European Union stocks.

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