SWITZERLAND - Two Swiss pension funds have increased their real estate investments in Bern, by acquiring residential fields for new development projects.

Bundes Publica, which has CHF32.5bn (€21bn) in assets under management, has acquired residential field number 10 from the government in Bern for an undisclosed figure and plans to build two four-story high buildings that will incorporate 47 residential flats.

The project is currently awaiting planning permission, although construction is scheduled to begin in October or November 2009.

According to Bundes Publica's srategic asset allocation report Anlagestrategie, released on 1 July 2008, it currently allocates 15% of its assets to real estate.

At least 10% of this allocation is in direct real estate investments in Switzerland, although Bundes Publica was unwilling to discuss any future investment plans the fund might have in Bern.

Swatch Group, one of Switzerland's private pension funds, has also bought residential field number 12, on which it plans to construct around 90 rental houses. Construction is expected to begin to start in the second half of 2009.

Swatch Group is one of the largest private pension funds in Switzerland, with more than CHF3.2bn in assets under management.

According to a report on Swatch Group's allocation of fund assets, published on 31 December 2007, the Group allocated 13.1% of its assets to its real estate portfolio.