Soft Markets Sock World's Largest Pension Plans

September 18, 2002 ( - Assets held by the world's largest 300 pension funds fell by 12% between 2000 and 2001.

According to research by consultant Watson Wyatt and Pensions & Investments, pension assets at those funds fell from $6.17 trillion at the end of 2000 to $5.43 trillion last year.

That result stands in sharp contrast to the 8.5% growth registered during 2000. Assets of the top 100 funds fared marginally worse, down 13% to $3 trillion from $4.4 trillion at the end of 2000.

CalPERS, the fund for California’s public employees, is the world’s largest fund with assets of $143.9 billion while ABP, the Dutch fund for civil servants, is in second place with $130.4 billion.

PGGM, the fund for Dutch healthcare workers, is the second largest European fund with $43.5 billion and is four places ahead of the UK’s largest plan, the $39.8- billion British telecom fund.

Of the top 300 funds, 175 are based in the US, 70 are from Europe, 20 from Japan, 16 from Canada and the rest elsewhere.

Sharp declines in the Japanese equity market- the Nikkei was off 23% last year- led to the assets held in the country’s funds to drop 22% to $427.5 billion.

In the US, total assets in the survey dropped 15% to $3.4 trillion, compared with a 12% increase in 2000. UK funds, of which there were 31 in the survey, saw their assets fall 8% to $423.8 billion.