SWITZERLAND- ABB Vorsorge, the CHF5.5bn (e3.8bn) pension fund for Swiss employees of the engineering company ABB has announced that Christoph Oeschger will take over as chief executive at the beginning of next year.

He replaces Christoph Schenk, the CEO since the outset, who is moving to what he calls ‘a new challenge outside the ABB organisation.”

Oeschger, 40, has been with ABB Vorsorge since its launch in 1999 and was most recently chief operating officer for the pensions unit. He was also responsible for the third party assets managed by ABB Vorsorge.

“Christoph Oeschger’s appointment as chief executive guarantees consistency in the orientation and quality of the company,” says Schenk.

Announcing the new chief executive coincided with a shock profits warning that cut the Swiss/Swedish group’s share price by two thirds. Bond prices also fell sharply leading analysts and investors to warn of a potential default in the absence of debt restructuring.

Ratings agencies S&P and Moody’s cut their credit ratings for the group and warned of further potential downgrades.

A spokesman at ABB Vorsorge says the pension assets are entirely separate from the sponsor company and that, in the event of a collapse, the funds are secure.

He refused to comment on the possible effects of trying to promote the third party asset management business. “Because of the three letters ABB, we haven’t got a very good reputation at the moment,” he said.