SWITZERLAND - The Swiss federal railways SBB has sold another one of its real estate holdings under its funding promise to the SBB pension fund.

Credit Suisse is part of the investor group which purchased the "Tribschen" site in Luzern for an undisclosed sum.

SBB put up the site for sale in an investor competition and highest bidders were Credit Suisse Asset Management and Swiss real estate company Anliker.

They acquired the site together with a development project for the construction of flats, offices and garages starting in the second half of next year.

The SBB signed an obligation last October to finance the underfunded CHF13.5bn (€8bn) pension fund by paying CHF1.5bn into the Pensionskasse over the next 25 years.

The pension fund was 86.5% funded in April even though investments generated a return of 5.6% in 2006.

So this funding will mainly come from sales of non-strategic real estate holdings by the SBB.

Coincidentally, Credit Suisse purchased two other real estate holdings from the SBB over the last year, another one in Luzern and one in the neighbouring canton of Solothurn.

"This is just coincidence," a spokesperson for Credit Suisse told IPE Real Estate. "We believe this area is a good location for real estate investments."

The SBB noted none of the sales were distress sales as the 25-year timeframe allowed the company to finance the debt via the already-planned modernisation of train stations, which is linked to an adjustment of real estate holdings.

Assets are also being generated by sale and leaseback strategies for certain other sites - the largest project of this kind was the Wyler Park in the Swiss capital Bern.

"At the moment, no other projects of this size are planned under the sale and leaseback strategy," an SBB spokesperson said.

Despite recent disposals, the SBB is still investing in real estate itself, mainly in properties close to large train stations.