Asip, Switzerland’s pension fund association, has said it is potentially interested in the creation of a venture capital fund seeded with pension fund money.
The creation of the fund is currently being debated in Parliament.
Members of the upper house of Parliament, the Ständerat, recently brought forward a motion to create a venture capital fund to invest in innovative Swiss companies.
According to the proposal, the Swiss government would “encourage” pension funds and insurers to devote parts of their portfolios to seed so-called Zukunftsfonds, or “future funds”.
In their motion, they cite US pension funds – which currently invest approximately 5% of their assets in venture capital – as an example to follow.
If pension funds in Switzerland were to achieve a similar allocation over the next 15 years, they said, the fund could grow to more than CHF40bn (€32bn).
But Asip president Christoph Ryter warned against comparing US pension funds with Swiss Pensionskassen, citing major differences of investment structure and size.
He also pointed out that the proposal makes no mention of whether participation would be mandatory for pension funds.
Ryter said Swiss pension funds would be interested in such a fund only if investment were voluntary.
He added that it remained to be seen whether the scheme would be attractive enough to pique pension funds’ interest.
In the 1990s, the government attempted to establish an infrastructure fund to finance railway projects, among other things, making it mandatory for pension funds to invest.
It abandoned its proposal, however, after objections from Swiss Pensionskassen.