SWITZERLAND – More than 90% of municipalities and public authorities within the canton of Zurich have chosen to remain members of the BVK, the canton's public pension fund.

The CHF21bn (€17.4bn) fund will be released from state control in 2014 and had to renew all membership contracts to fit its new structure, for which a new trustee board was elected at the end of November.

Earlier this year, some members had threatened to leave the BVK due to a sizeable funding gap and uncertainty surrounding CHF2bn in financial aid from the canton, which was eventually passed in April.

But the BVK has now reported that 96.5% of its former members, "after carefully assessing the new contract together with consultants and looking at other offers", have opted to remain within the fund.

Thirty-five of the canton's 531 organisations and municipalities terminated their membership.

The BVK said another 22 contracts were not renewed but merged with other contracts to simplify administration for the fund.

Thomas Schönbächler, managing director at the BVK, said the membership renewals were a "great vote of confidence".

He said the recovery measures put in place for the fund, including additional contributions and a lower conversion rate, had been "balanced and fair".

He also argued that the fund's 75,100 active members, out of more than 100,000 total members, who had to agree individually to the new contract, could now "profit" from the canton's "one-off financial aid".

The BVK also welcomed a recent court decision on commission payments from banks' asset management operations, saying it would give Pensionskassen "hope" in their efforts to claw back some commissions retroactively.