GLOBAL- Assets held by the world’s largest 300 pension funds fell by 12% according to research by consultant Watson Wyatt and Pensions & Investments.

Assets of the largest 300 funds totalled $5.43trn last year compared with $6.17trn at the end of 2000. The drop is in sharp contrast to growth of 8.5% reported during 2000. Assets of the top 100 funds fared marginally worse, down 13% to $3.8trn from $4.4 at the end of 2000.

Seven of the world’s largest funds are from the US, Japan, the Netherlands and Taiwan account for one each. Caplers, the scheme for California’s public employees remains the world’s largest fund with assets of $143.9bn while ABP, the Dutch fund for civil servants, is in second place with $130.4bn.

PGGM, the fund for Dutch healthcare workers, is the second largest European fund with $43.5bn and is four places ahead of the UK’s largest scheme, the $39.8bn British telecom fund.

Of the top 300 funds, 175 are based in the US, 70 are from Europe, 20 from Japan, 16 from Canada and the rest elsewhere.

Sharp declines in the Japanese equity market- the Nikkei was off 23% last year- led to the assets held in the country’s funds to drop 22% to $427.5bn.

In the US, total assets in the survey dropped 15% to $3.4trn, compared with a 12% increase in 2000. UK funds, of which there were 31 in the survey, saw their assets fall 8% to $423.8bn.

This relatively smaller drop was due to the FTSE All share losing 13% compared with the MSCI world and FTSE world that both dropped around 16%.