Malaysia's Employees Provident Fund on Saturday credited a 5.45% dividend payout to the accounts of its 14.6 million members for 2019, down from 6.15% the year before and the lowest rate since its 4.5% payout in 2008 — amid the global financial crisis.
The Kuala Lumpur-based national defined contribution system, in a news release, said its investment portfolio ended 2019 valued at 924.75 billion ringgit ($220.8 billion), up just under 11% from the year before.
For the latest year, the EPF reported gross investment income of 50.3 billion ringgit, down marginally from 50.9 billion ringgit in 2018.
Malaysia's domestic stock market "did not support the income-generating capabilities of the EPF" in 2019, said EPF CEO Alizakri Alias, in a news release. The benchmark index dropped roughly 4% during the year.
But the fund's continued boost in overseas assets — which accounted for 30.3% of total portfolio assets at the end of 2019, up from 26.7% the year before — helped the EPF deliver stable returns, he said. For the year, the fund's overseas assets contributed 41% of the portfolio's gross investment income.
As 2019 came to an end, 49% of the portfolio's assets were in fixed income, 39% in equities, 7% in money market instruments and 5% in real estate and infrastructure — little changed from the year before.
Mr. Alizakri predicted tougher times ahead, saying, "2020 is going to be just as or even more challenging than 2019, with the full impact of the (coronavirus) likely to drag down already soft global growth."
But he expressed hope that domestic markets will prove "resilient, especially in light of the soon to be announced government stimulus package, which should help support investor and consumer sentiment."