GSIS reviews investments

Published by rudy Date posted on January 23, 2009

The state-run Government Service Insurance System said it is reviewing its planned $400-million foreign investment because of uncertainties in the international market.

“We are reviewing the strategy because it [market] is still volatile. But we believe the rock bottom has already been hit,” said GSIS president and general manager Winston Garcia.

“The experiences of fund managers make us pause and ponder [but] it is inevitable for us to go abroad because of the declining investment opportunities here in the Philippines,” he said.

“We’re planning to proceed with [investing the $400 million] but we want to clear the air first and to see who are the fund managers affected by this global crisis. It will not be prudent for us to make a selection right now on the basis of the rating standards—we have the benefit of hindsight,” Garcia said.

GSIS expects earnings this year to slip by as much as 20 percent due to volatile markets and low interest rates. Garcia said net income would likely fall to P40 billion this year from about P50 billion last year.

The GSIS head said the fund would adopt more stringent requirements in selecting managers for its $400-million fund overseas.

“We will have different investors for the $400 million. We have to be certain who to get,” said Garcia.

The state-run pension fund manager said it would remain an active player in the local capital market despite allotting a total of $1 billion overseas.

GSIS divested its shares in Manila Electric Co. last year, earning P12.5 billion. It has some P8 billion invested in local stocks.

Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co., Bank of the Philippine Islands and Banco de Oro Universal Bank have been managing the pension fund’s P6 billion worth of investible funds since 2007.

GSIS launched its $1-billion global investment program at the start of last year and appointed ING Investment Management and Credit Agricole Asset Management (Singapore) Ltd. as global fund managers for the first tranche of $600 million. It named Citibank NA as the global custodian.

GSIS said it earned P43 billion in the first 11 months of 2008 while consolidated revenues reached P81.9 billion.

The pension fund, meanwhile, is seeking approval of the Bangko Sentral to buy $400 million from the spot market to fund its overseas investments invest abroad and take advantage of opportunities in the global market.

GSIS sought the approval of the central bank to buy $600 million in May last year for its initial foreign investments. –Eileen A. Mencias, Lawrence Agcaoili, Manila Standard Today

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