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07 September 2012

IPE: European pension funds hail ECB's leading role in fight for euro

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Pension funds and national associations welcomed the announcement by the European Central Bank's president Mario Draghi that it could begin an unlimited bond purchase programme in an effort to lower the yields of countries including Spain and Italy.

Although the announced Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) programme – fiercely resisted by Germany's Bundesbank for blurring the lines between fiscal and monetary policy – will be linked to conditions in line with previous bailouts through the European Financial Stability Facility, it was welcomed by pension funds across the continent.

Several investors, including newly appointed chief investment officer of France's UMR Philipe Rey, were pleased with Draghi's use of the word "unlimited" to describe the programme's scope. Ángel Martínez-Aldama, director of the Spanish association of pension funds INVERCO, said the plan to buy eurozone short-term bonds in the secondary market was very "promising" for markets and Spanish pension funds, traditionally heavily invested in Spanish-denominated government bonds. Bram van Els, spokesman for the €77 billion asset manager MN Services, added: "For a real long-term solution, reforms are required, which is up to the politicians. However, the ECB's purchasing programme appeases the markets and buys much-needed breathing space for reforms."

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© IPE International Publishers Ltd.

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