US - The Church Pension Group (CPG) which provides retirement benefits for members of the Episcopal Church, said assets fell by 18.8% in 2008.
It said its 33% allocation to bonds offset some of the equity decline. Within its equity portfolio, the CPG added hedge fund, arbitrage, distressed debt and absolute returns strategies also cushioned returns.
Despite the losses, the CPG was able to offer a 5.9% cost-of-living-allowance (COLA) increase for eligible clergy and lay retirees as of the beginning of 2009 and said it was optimistic about the investment opportunities during the global recession.
Church Pension Group president and chief executive T. Dennis Sullivan said: "Even in these trying economic times, the fund remains in a solid financial position, and benefits are secure. Although, like many others, we have seen some losses in value, fund results continue to outperform market benchmarks, validating our overall investment strategy."
Chief investment officer William Cobb added: "These are clearly very challenging times, with a great deal of uncertainty in respect to the economic and investment outlook. The Fund portfolio is, of course, not immune to the type of market environment in which we find ourselves, and has declined 18.8% during 2008."
He continued: "Despite the recent declines, we believe the investment portfolio is well-positioned for the long term. While recent economic and market events can be disturbing, they also provide the foundation for very attractive return opportunities, and the Fund is in a strong position to take advantage of them."
Over the last 10 years, the fund has delivered an annualised return of 9.3%.
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