SWITZERLAND – Banking group UBS says its Swiss defined benefit pension assets returned 12% in 2005, up from 5.5% in 2004.

The assets grew to CHF20.23bn (€12.8bn) from CHF18.57bn, with the deficit cut to CHF743m from CHF1.65bn, according to the bank’s 2005 annual report. The company plans to contribute CHF416m to these plans in 2006.

The equity allocation was static at 43%, while debt instruments were up slightly at 43%. Real estate again accounted for 12%.

Foreign assets returned 13.6% - up from 10.8% in the prior year, rising to CHF4.29bn from CHF3.58bn. But the deficit widened to CHF732m from CHF562m.

The discount rate assumption was cut to 3.0% for the Swiss plans from 3.3% a year before and 3.8% in 2003.

UBS contributed a total of CHF514m to its pension plans in 2005.

The report also revealed that some CHF2.22bn of the plan assets were lent to UBS itself, down from CHF3.78bn.

The bank also leases buildings from the Swiss pension fund, paying CHF4m in rent in 2005.

UBS’s defined contribution plans hold just over 7m of the bank’s shares, with a market value of CHF885m.