“This increase was partly caused by the drop in interest rates during 2015, which increased the market value of bond portfolios,” said EIOPA, noting that the UK and the Netherlands accounted for 83% of the European occupational pensions sector.In most countries, the size of the occupational pension fund sector with respect to GDP – the penetration rate – grew in 2015 compared with 2014, according to the EIOPA report. The ratio shrank in countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands and Finland.EIOPA said the investment allocation for occupational pension funds – IORPs – had been “relatively stable” in the past three years.Total exposure to bonds stood at 47% in 2015, and equities accounted for 28%.Over a nine-year period, changes have been more substantial, however, according to EIOPA.It said there had been a decline in equities from 46% to 28% based on data for 16 countries (accounting for 97% of assets in the EEA) for the period from 2007 to 2015.“A possible explanation is the de-risking of investment portfolios in the UK,” it said.UK DB schemes’ average allocation to bonds hit 50% for the first time in the 2015-16 financial year, according to the UK’s Pension Protection Fund.It published its latest ‘Purple Book’ of DB scheme data this week, according to which private sector DB funds had an average fixed income allocation of 51.3% at the end of March.EIOPA said cover ratios for European defined benefit (DB) schemes had decreased “and remain a big concern for a number of countries”, EIOPA said.It put the average weighted cover ratio at 95% for 2015, down from 104%.The number of IORPs in Europe fell further in 2015, decreasing by 3% versus 2014, while overall active membership increased by 7%.EIOPA said the overall increase in active membership could be attributed “to a large extent to the (gradual) introduction of auto-enrolment in the UK”.The Dutch regulator has predicted that some 100 fewer pension funds will exist in the Netherlands by the end of next year due to consolidation.The information in the pension fund overview is based on feedback provided by EIOPA members, with data for 2014 provided to EIOPA “with an approximate view of the financial position of IORPs during the covered period”.The supervisory authority said several countries were in the process of collecting data and that, in some cases, 2014 figures were incomplete or based on estimates that may be subject to major revisions in the coming months.It noted that the main valuation method applied by each country varied due to differing accounting principles applied across the EU, and that data availability varied substantially, “which hampers a thorough analysis and comparison of the pension market developments between [EU] member states”. Total assets in European occupational pension funds increased “significantly” in 2015, with asset allocation remaining broadly unchanged, according to the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA).The supervisory authority this week released its second half-year financial stability report for 2016, which includes a chapter capturing broad developments in the European occupational pension fund sector.Much of the report is focused on the other part of EIOPA’s remit, the insurance and re-insurance sector.It said the occupational pension fund market grew by 13.5% for the European Economic Area (EEA) in 2015 in terms of assets “owned” by the funds, and by 2.5% for the euro-zone; it did not state an absolute figure.
ABU DHABI: Pakistan pressed West Indies hard for a series-clinching win in the second Test after setting a daunting 456-run target on the fourth day in Abu Dhabi yesterday.By close of play Pakistan had taken four wickets at 171 leaving the West Indies to bat out the fifth and final day today or score a further 285 runs with six wickets intact for an unlikely win.No team has ever chased down more than the 418/7 West Indies managed against Australia at Antigua 13 years ago, and on a weary last day pitch they will need a huge effort to stop Pakistan from taking an unassailable 2-0 lead.Pakistan won the first Test — a day-night affair played with the pink ball — by 56 runs in Dubai.Pakistan had declared their second innings on 227/2 at lunch, with Asad Shafiq unbeaten on 58 (his 16th Test half century) and Younis Khan on 29 to give their bowlers enough time to force a win.At close, Jermaine Blackwood was unbeaten on 41 and with him Roston Chase 17 not out as the two foiled Pakistan’s bowling during an unbroken 47-run stand for the fifth wicket.The duo carried the fight initiated by opener Kraigg Brathwaite, who scored a fighting 67 with six boundaries and a six.Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels (23) had added 49 for the third wicket but both fell in the space of 12 runs, Samuels giving a return catch to leg-spinner Yasir Shah while Brathwaite trapped leg-before wicket by Mohammad Nawaz.Brathwaite had completed his 11th half-century with a three run drive off paceman Sohail Khan — his first in this series.West Indies’ task of saving the Test was made even more difficult after they lost Leon Johnson (nine) and Darren Bravo (13) with the total on 63.Johnson tried to sweep a delivery from Shah only to drag it on to his stumps after hitting the bat and glove.Bravo, who scored a fighting 116 in Dubai, slashed a drive off fast bowler Rahat Ali straight to point where Mohammad Nawaz held a head high catch.Pakistan wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed said: “We would have liked five down instead of four. But we are in a commanding position and are sure that we will win the match tomorrow.”Pakistan added 113 runs in the first session to set up their declaration.Shafiq scored his second fifty of the match with three boundaries after Azhar Ali was dismissed for 79.Resuming at 114/1 Pakistan were unable to score quick runs as West Indian captain Jason Holder kept a tight field, with only five boundaries in the session.Ali, who scored a career best 302 not out in Dubai, edged Miguel Cummins to slip where Holder took a sharp catch for the fast bowler’s first wicket in the series.Ali hit five boundaries during his 137-ball stay at the crease.West Indies bowlers tried valiantly for more wickets but spurned a review when Holder trapped Younis in front of the wicket but television replays showed the ball was missing the stumps.The third and final Test will be played in Sharjah from 30 October.(AFP)PAKISTAN 1st innings 452West Indies 1st innings 224Pakistan 2nd innings (overnight 114 for one)Sami Aslam c wkp Hope b Gabriel 50Azhar Ali c Holder b Cummins 79Asad Shafiq not out 58Younis Khan not out 29Extras (b4, lb3, w1, nb3) 11TOTAL (2 wkts decl., 67 overs) 227Fall of wickets: 1-93, 2-164.Bowling: Gabriel 12-2-36-1 (nb2), Cummins 7-0-26-1 (w1, nb1), Brathwaite 15-2-33-0, Bishoo 20-0-77-0, Holder 7-0-22-0, Chase 6-0-26-0.WEST INDIES 2nd innings (target: 456 runs)K Brathwaite lbw b Mohammad Nawaz 67L Johnson b Yasir Shah 9D Bravo c Mohammad Nawaz b Rahat Ali 13M Samuels c & b Yasir Shah 23J Blackwood not out 41R Chase not out 17Extras (lb1) 1TOTAL (4 wkts, 62 overs) 171Fall of wickets: 1-28, 2-63, 3-112, 4-124.Bowling: Sohail Khan 10-2-24-0, Rahat Ali 14-1-40-1, Yasir Shah 18-2-60-2, Zulfiqar Babar 15-5-32-0, Mohammad Nawaz 5-0-14-1.