SWITZERLAND - Transparenta, a multi-employer pension scheme, has reported significant gains in assets and in the number of people it insures for 2006 while finishing the year with a net return of 5.3%.

Transparenta said its assets rose 39% during 2006 to total CHF232m (€142.6m). At the same time, the number of participants increased 46% to 2,958.

The fund's participants are employed at 132 firms in Switzerland. Transparenta said they were mostly small and midsize enterprises and from a wide range of industries.

Although Transparenta's return of 5.3% was somewhat under the 6.6% average for Swiss pension funds, the scheme said it outperformed its benchmarks in every asset class except cash.

Transparenta allocates 25% of its assets to equities, with 10% going to Swiss and 15% to foreign equities. The fund has 44% invested in fixed income, including 39% denominated in Swiss francs and 5% in foreign currency.

Real estate accounts for another 20% of Transparenta's assets, followed by commodities (5%) and cash (6%). The returns for commodities and cash in 2006 were negative (-2.99% and
-2.47%, respectively).

Transparenta's said that as its return for 2006 was above the legal minimum of 2.5%, the additional return would be distributed to the 132 employers tied to the scheme.

"The employers can pass on the surplus to the employees either in the form of additional returns or reduced contributions to the pension fund," Transparenta said. It added that its funding ratio at the end of 2006 was 111%.

Founded in 2004, Transparenta is just one of several newer multi-employer pension funds in Switzerland that target SMEs.

Separately, Allgemeine Pensionskasse (APK), the pension fund for the failed airline Swissair, confirmed that it had filed a lawsuit seeking up to CHF677m in damages from Swissair's liquidator. Contacted by IPE, APK declined further comment on its lawsuit.

According to Swiss news reports, APK filed the claim after it itself was
sued by 12 former flight attendants at Swissair.

Swissair collapsed in October 2001 following huge losses caused by a misguided growth strategy and the immediate effect of the terrorist attacks in the US in September 2001.