A medical pension fund from North Rhine Westphalia in Germany has won the themed award for property investments at the fifth annual IPE Awards in Berlin.

Nordrheinische Aerzteversorgung (NAEV) triumphed amid a strong field of contenders for the award, which was judged by a panel of industry professionals.

NAEV executives Norbert Leist and Hermann Aukamp collected the trophy at IPE’s gala ceremony in Berlin’s Ritz Carlton.

The judges commented that: “The administration and careful planning that obviously go into this fund set it apart from its peers. Its strict risk management ensures its asset-liability studies recommend the best possible asset allocation policy without jeopardising its ability to meet its obligations.

“Adopting a pyramid approach to its real estate portfolio means it can easily monitor and adjust its investments in the asset class within each tier’s strategic limits.

“Finally, recognising the importance of communication by ensuring all its corporate departments remain in constant touch with each other is the best possible way the fund can maintain transparency across the board.”

Real estate accounts for between 12 and 15 per cent of NAEV’s total assets of EUR 7.5 bn. In 2004 NAEV earned an investment return of 6.5% compared with 7.8% in 2003 and –1.7% in 2002.

The pension fund has reorganised its property assets to form a pyramid structure with three tiers representing (from the ground up) direct investments, indirect and REITs.

NAEV’s direct investments are made across five German regions. Indirect investments are made outside Germany in conjunction with Spezialfonds and through shareholdings. REIT investments are also international as Germany has no domestic REIT regime.

The pension fund’s risk-adjusted asset allocation strategy has been endorsed by supervisory authorities in North Rhine Westphalia and it has received an operating licence. NAEV is now offering the strategy to other German funds and has won two risk management contracts covering assets of EUR 2.6bn.