SWITZERLAND - Symova, the spin-off Pensionskasse for companies in the transport sector, has started operations, while Ascoop is facing liquidation.

Ascoop head Urs Niklaus will run the new fund, while Ascoop asset management head Sara Gabriel will be responsible for investments.

Symova, which starts operations with CHF 1.7bn (€1.3bn), has not yet made any investments, but the strategic asset allocation has been set down as 32% domestic bonds, 16% foreign equities, 8% domestic equities, 7% foreign-currency bonds (hedged), 3% cash and 2% emerging market equities.

In addition, the portfolio will contain 28% domestic real estate and 4% hedged commodities investments.

As many as 60 companies have already joined the Symova industry collective fund, with 6,200 active and 3,500 retired members - most of them formerly at the heavily underfunded Ascoop fund, according to information on the new fund's website.

According to the transport union, more companies want to join Symova, but only Pensionskassen that are fully funded, or where the employer is willing to top up the fund by 2020, are allowed to join.

Companies with fewer than 21 employers can join only if they are fully funded or merge with other funds.

Ascoop is now left with a fragment of its former number of more than 140 associated companies with over 9,000 employees.

Mainly retirees whose former employers have ceased to exist will stay in the fund.

Should the Swiss government accept Ascoop's application for liquidation, the Swiss insolvency protection fund will have to take these members on if no company is paying for them.

In the meantime, Ascoop is still in a legal battle with 18 former member companies that had appealed the division of funds in the 2005 part-liquidation when they left Ascoop.

As at year-end 2009, Ascoop was 83.2% funded after returning 11.1%, according to its annual report.

Ascoop's call for state aid, similar to that of the Swiss federal railway SBB, was rejected, as only few of its members are actually owned or partly owned by the federal government.