Heavenly returns for CofE's investments

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The Independent Online

The Church of England's £3.9bn pension fund, which dates back more than 400 years, has come in as the best performer in its class over the past decade, with returns of more than 5 per cent per annum.

The fund, which invests the wealth amassed by the church since its creation more than four centuries ago, topped the tables due to its large holdings in property, which has been the best performing asset class over both the past five- and 10-year periods. According to WM, the fund analyst, property has returned 10.5 per cent a year since 1994, compared with just 6.2 per cent for UK equities and 7.6 per cent for UK bonds.

The fund holds about 30 per cent of the fund in property. Its 10-year return of 5.2 per cent a year is more than three times greater than the average pension fund in the WM all-funds universe, which has returned just 1.6 per cent over the past decade.

The church is one of the largest holders of property in the UK, with shares in assets such as Newcastle's shopping mall, the MetroCentre, and Sony's European headquarters in London, and Millbank House, home to the House of Lords' offices.

Andreas Whittam Smith, the first church estates commissioner, said he believed the strong performance was due to the diversity as well as the size of its property portfolio.