TUCP warns GSIS against investing $400 M more overseas

Published by rudy Date posted on October 22, 2008

The country’s largest labor union warned the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) yesterday against pouring $400 million more into overseas investments.

Ernesto Herrera, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) secretary-general, said the global financial crisis could worsen in the coming months.

Herrera issued the warning as the Dutch government via a massive capital injection bailed out the parent firm of one of the GSIS’s foreign fund managers.

The Netherlands’ ING Groep NV, one of the world’s top 20 diversified financial services firms, got a $13.4-billion capital infusion from the Dutch Treasury on Monday.

A unit of ING Groep NV – ING Investment Management – is one of the two foreign fund managers of the GSIS’s $600-million Global Investment Program (GIP) portfolio.

“While ING’s internal financial condition may not directly impact client accounts, such as the GIP portfolio that it is managing on behalf of the GSIS, this nonetheless casts doubt on the reliability of the investment decisions being made by ING’s fund managers,” Herrera said in a statement.

“Our sense is, an institution that cannot prudently manage its own investments or finances cannot be totally trusted to skillfully look after other people’s funds, or in this case, the money of GSIS members and pensioners.”

ING said Monday it expects to report a net loss of $670 million for the third quarter – the firm’s first loss in 50 years. The company blamed the loss on $2.68-billion worth of investment losses, asset write-downs and extra provisions for bad loans.

At the New York Stock Exchange, ING’s own stock has plunged from a high of $45.21 a year ago to as low as $9.89 this month.

In return for the huge cash investment, the Dutch government received new ING shares representing 33-percent ownership of the Amsterdam-based global banking and insurance giant.

The GSIS previously reported that its P26.54-billion ($553 million at P48:$1) GIP portfolio is invested in global fixed income instruments (P10.456 billion); global equities (P4.127 billion); global property securities (P3.08 billion); and cash, short-term notes and other investments (P8.875 billion).

With global stock markets hovering at or near five-year lows, the GSIS announced plans to start “bottom-feeding” by buying even more equities at fire-sale prices. – Mayen Jaymalin

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