SWITZERLAND - The pension fund of Swiss textile company Rieter is losing its portfolio manager Jürg Maurer as he is leaving to set up his own asset management business.

Maurer had made the headlines during the Swissfirst scandal last year as Swiss tabloid Blick was forced to publish a front page reading "Sorry Jürg Maurer" as an apology for accusing him of wrongdoing and bad management. (See earlier IPE article: Swiss newspaper apologises over Swissfirst scandal)

Maurer will now set up his own company by the name of JMA Jürg Maurer Asset Mangement AG which - according to the entry in the Swiss register of companies - will be "offering asset management and investment consulting as well as providing fiduciary and other financial services".

A spokesman for Rieter confirmed Maurer will be leaving and JMA "will be available for mandates" for possible outsourced management of some of the CHF1.2bn (€750m) pension fund's assets.

"There will be no direct replacement for Mr Maurer," the spokesman noted.

Berhard Weber, currently head of corporate treasury, will be taken on the portfolio management of the Pensionskasse but the fund will decide which parts are to remain in house and which mandates might be outsourced.

"Jürg Maurer was only responsible for the portfolio management and Mr Weber cannot do everything Mr Maurer did," the spokesman added.

He confirmed JMA "and other partners" will be considered for possible mandates.

At the end of 2007, the Pensionskasse was 141% funded, down from 157% the year before.

It is understood the new company will begin trading in October though Maurer was not available for comment.

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