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Pension Funds

U.K.’s Pension Protection Fund notches 16% fiscal-year return

The Pension Protection Fund, London, achieved a 16% investment return in the year ended March 31, helping to bolster assets by 22.6% to 28.7 billion ($35.7 billion).

The fund, which is the lifeboat for the defined benefit funds of insolvent U.K. companies, achieved a 1.7% return for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016.

Excluding the fund's liability-driven investment program, which protects the fund from fluctuations in inflation and interest rates, the investment return was 3.9%. The LDI return was not provided.

In its 2016/2017 annual report and accounts, the PPF said its funded ratio had increased to 121.6% as of March 31, up from 116.3% a year previous.

"We are very pleased with this performance, particularly in light of the fund’s long-term, low-risk investment strategy," said CEO Alan Rubenstein in the report. Executives have been bringing the management of assets in-house and now manages a "significant proportion of our LDI trading in-house," said Mr. Rubenstein. "The trend to insource resources is becoming even more common among funds of our size and we believe delivers better control of costs and greater flexibility in implementation to the PPF."

Also in the report, Barry Kenneth, chief investment officer, said over the next two years "we plan to insource a number of other investment activities that are currently being undertaken by external parties, including cash, foreign exchange and certain elements of our credit portfolio." He added insourcing is not just a cost saving measure, but helps executives meet "the specific nuances of the PPF portfolio ... as such we will continue to look for opportunities but will only insource where we believe we can improve our performance compared to external fund managers."

The biggest contribution to the fund's returns were alternative credit, with a 11.75% return, and minimum variance equities, at 12.33%. Further details were not available.

Mr. Kenneth also noted that while the strategic asset allocation has not changed from last year, "we are considering what regulatory requirements for central clearing and bilateral margining of over-the-counter derivatives will mean for our investment operations." He said "a larger cash reserve will be needed to account for potential rapid changes in associated margin payments and we may have to alter our asset allocation in light of this."

The strategic asset allocation is 58% cash and bonds, 22.5% alternatives, 12.5% hybrid assets and 7% equities.