Swiss/Swedish power and automation technologies provider ABB Ltd says it will inject 200 million dollars (198 million euros) into its pension fund by the end of the year.

ABB’s chief financial officer Peter Voser told analysts in Zurich today that company pension funds had been underfunded by 1.8 billion dollars (1.78 billion euros) at the end of 2001, but had since improved. An ABB spokeswoman confirmed the figure to IPE Newsline.

Beleaguered ABB has had a difficult year, following weak operating performance, restructuring challenges and continuing uncertainties on asbestos litigation and has seen its share price fall 80% since January. Rumours about massive underfunding of the pension fund have further been fuelling investor concerns over ABB’s capital base.

In addition, this week ABB was downgraded by US rating agency Standard & Poor’s from BBB+ to BBB-.