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ASSET OWNERS

Church Commissioners for England’s endowment returns 17.1% in 2016

Church Commissioners for England, London, returned 17.1% on its investments in 2016, with the endowment fund growing 12.9% to £7.9 billion ($9.7 billion) for the year ended Dec. 31.

The 2016 investment returns compared with the previous year's 8.2% gain. Over the past 30 years, the average annual return has been 9.6%, said the endowment's latest annual report.

Returns were strong across asset classes, with the exception of cash, the annual report said. “The sharp fall in sterling, post the (European Union) referendum in the middle of the year, provided a significant one-off boost to returns from overseas assets for sterling-based investors,” the report said.

The endowment's global equities portfolio, which represents 19.3% of exposure, returned 32.9% in 2016, compared with 3.5% in 2015. Private equity, with a 3.9% allocation, returned 26.1% in 2016, vs. 20.2% in 2015.

Timberland and forestry, with a 4.8% allocation, had the third-highest return at 24.3% compared with 13% in 2015.

The remainder of the endowment's asset allocation as of Dec. 31 was 12.9% multiasset; 9.9% cash and cash-like assets; 9.4% U.K. equities; 8.8% rural real estate; 7.7% defensive equities; 6.7% credit strategies; 6.1% residential real estate; 3.7% commercial real estate; 2.7% indirect real estate; 2.4% strategic land; 1.4% value-linked loans; and 0.3% infrastructure.

In 2016 the endowment also made its first qualifying impact investments, including a $40 million commitment to Equilibrium Capital Group's Wastewater Opportunity Fund.