GERMANY - Reinhard Fuchs, the 62-year-old chief executive of Munich-based life insurer WWK, is stepping down.

WWK said Fuchs' retirement had taken immediate effect and that his duties were being handled by WWK's three remaining board members: Rainer Gebhart, Friedrich Hebeisen and Jürgen Schrameier.

Like its peers, including Allianz and AMB Generali, WWK is a major player in the German market for corporate and private pensions.

In 2003, WWK launched a Pensionsfonds, the German equivalent of an Anglo-Saxon pension fund. Including its Pensionsfonds and insurance divisions, WWK itself has assets of just under €7.4bn.

In a newspaper interview published last November, Karl Ruffing, director of finance at WWK, said the insurer had 45% of its assets allocated to fixed income. "We consider these as buy-and-hold investments which should cover most of our liabilities and provide a return above the guarantee [currently 2.25% on insurance contracts]," he told German pensions magazine dpn.

Ruffing also told dpn that WWK had 15% of its assets invested in equities, most of which were European in nature. Another 15% was in mortgage loans, while WWK's real estate exposure was between 10% and 12%.

Finally, Ruffing said WWK had 3% invested in alternative asset classes, including hedge funds and convertible bonds.

Ruffing said the insurer would increase hedge fund exposure to 2% of assets over the next two to three years, adding that there would be bias toward single hedge funds for which WWK would likely use a consultant.

Exposure to convertible bonds should also reach 2% in the near term, the WWK director said.