BERNE - The newly launched pension plan for Swiss postal workers will begin searching in March for property and equity money managers.
Exact details on how the portfolios of the 10 billion Swiss franc ($6.1 billion) Caisse de Pension Poste will be invested still have to be decided, but up to 3.5 billion francs will be up for grabs in international mandates.
Fixed-income manager searches will begin in 2003.
The fund already appointed three passive equity managers, and is in negotiations with a fourth, to run 1.2 billion francs, said Bernhard Zumbrunn, chief of finance for the plan, which was launched Jan. 1. Plan executives will decide this month how to manage the remaining 2.9 billion francs in equities; manager searches will begin later in the year, he added.
The plan's asset mix is 40% fixed income, 35% equity, 15% real estate and 10% invested in mortgages granted to plan members.
Plan executives still have to decide the split between active and passive management of the equity portfolio, said Mr. Zumbrunn. But 20% of plan assets will be invested in non-domestic equities, and domestic equities will account for 15% of the plan, he added.
Swiss domestic bonds will account for 25% of plan assets; 10% of plan assets will be invested in Swiss franc-denominated non-domestic bonds; and 5% will be invested in non-Swiss franc bonds. The split between corporate and government bonds has not yet been decided.
The plan may invest in alternative investments such as hedge funds and private equity, but no decisions will be made until 2003 or 2004, said Mr. Zumbrunn.
Swiss investment consultant PPC Metrics is advising; PricewaterhouseCoopers is the actuary; and UBS was appointed global custodian.
The plan has around 50,000 active workers and 25,000 pensioners.
The launch of the postal workers plan continues the gradual breakup of the 35 billion franc Pensionkasse des Bundes, Berne, which covers Swiss federal employees. Until the end of 2001, it was Switzerland's largest pension plan.
The Swiss government approved the launch of the postal workers' plan early last year after the previously state-run company became an independent business in 1997. Swiss Post has not been privatized, but operates as a commercial company, said Mr. Zumbrunn.
Two years ago, the state-run railways and telecommunications operations set up their own pension plans independently of the PKB.
New to markets
The PKB plan started investing in financial markets in 1999. Prior to this, the assets had been invested only in Swiss government bonds and had been managed by the Ministry of Finance.
Speaking in early December, Felix Senn, head of asset management for PKB, said the launch of the postal workers' plan likely would require a change in the investment strategy of the PKB. But he would not give further details.
PKB's fixed-interest portfolio, which at the end of 2000 accounted for 60% of plan assets, is largely managed internally. A portion is managed by active managers Swissca Portfolio Management Ltd., Zurich; Fiduciary Trust Co. International, London; and Activest Investment GMbH, Unterfohring, Germany.
Part of the plan's equity portfolio, which accounted for 37.5% of plan assets at the end of last year, also is outsourced, said Mr. Senn. The external equity managers are Julius Baer AG, Zurich; Bank Sarasin & Cie, Basel; Zurcher Kantonalbank, Zurich; Credit Suisse Asset Management, Zurich; Pictet & Cie, Geneva; J.P. Morgan Investment Managers, London; Deutsche Asset Management Schweiz AG, Zurich; ABN Amro Asset Management, Amsterdam; Zurich Scudder Investments AG, Zurich; Schroder & Co. Bank AG, Zurich; and Barclays Global Investors Ltd., London.
Mr. Senn could not be reached for further comment.