SWITZERLAND - The global Nestlé pension funds made a total return in 2006 of nearly CHF2.3bn (€1.4bn), bringing the funds' entire assets to just under CHF23.6bn at December 31 last year.

Presenting its audited 2006 group results, Nestlé announced today that the actual return on plan assets this year was less than in 2005, when the funds globally returned over CHF2.5bn.

Nestlé's investment management competence is relocating to London from the group headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland.

The group also said it expects to contribute CHF568m to its funded defined benefit schemes this year, though it is unclear to which of Nestlé's pension funds these assets will go.

As at the end of last year, the food giant's plans' funded obligations collectively were €540m in surplus.

In its principal actuarial assumptions at December 31 2006, the company estimates the discount rate for Europe at 4.2%, up from 3.9% in 2005.

For the Americas and Asia, Oceania and Africa the firm assumes discount rates of 6% (up from 5.9%) and 5.3% (up from 5%) respectively.

The long-term rates of return on plan assets for Europe are estimated at 6.5%, at 8.5% for the Americas and 6.9% Asia, Oceania and Africa.

Nestlé profit in 2006 was CHF9.9bn (€6.1bn), up from CHF8.6bn in the year before.