The worldÆs top 300 pension funds grew at a steady pace of 11.5% last year, with their combined assets under management reaching $10.429 trillion in 2006 from $9.357 trillion in 2005, according to a report by Watson Wyatt and Pensions & Investments.

Japan û which has a 15% share of total pension fund assets worldwide û is still home to the largest pension funds in Asia-Pacific and is still ranked second in the world next to the US, which has a 43% share. Although Japan has maintained its standing in the world rankings for pension funds, its share of the total has been sliding from 21% in 2004 and 17.6% in 2005.

JapanÆs Government Pension Investment Fund is still the worldÆs largest pension fund û a position it has held since 2002 û with $936 billion in assets. A far second is NorwayÆs Government Pension with $286 billion, followed by South KoreaÆs National Pension with $203 billion, South AfricaÆs Government Employees Pension Fund with $178 billion, and TaiwanÆs Postal Savings Fund with $128 billion.

Sovereign pension funds accounted for $2.4 trillion in assets, or around 23% of the total worldwide. The latest figure is a sharp increase from just under $1 trillion three years ago.

ôSovereign funds are becoming increasingly influential investors,ö Watson Wyatt notes in the report.

The top 20 pension funds account for $3.8 trillion in assets, or around a third of the total worldwide. Other Asian pension funds in the top 20 are MalaysiaÆs Employees Provident Fund ranked seventh with $82 billion in assets, SingaporeÆs Central Provident Fund ranked eighth with $70 billion in assets, ChinaÆs National Social Security ranked 12th with $36 billion in assets, and IndiaÆs Employees Provident ranked 13th with $32 billion in assets.