Half of the assets managed by the world's largest money managers are now pension fund assets, according to a new Towers Watson study.

Alternative assets managed on behalf of pension funds by the world's largest managers grew 16 percent in 2010 to $952 billion from $817 billion in 2009, according to research produced by Towers Watson in conjunction with the Financial Times.

Total assets under management for these managers increased by 12 percent to $1.9 trillion. The Global Alternatives Survey covers five alternatives asset classes: real estate; private equity fund of funds; fund of hedge funds; infrastructure and commodities and includes rankings of the top managers in each area.

An analysis of the top 100 alternatives managers shows that real estate managers dominate, accounting for around 55 percent of assets (up from 52 percent in 2009), followed by private equity fund of funds on 18 percent (down from 21 percent in 2009), fund of hedge funds on 12 percent (down from 13 percent in 2009), infrastructure on 12 percent (12 percent in 2009) and commodities on 3 percent (up from 2 percent in 2009).

According to the research, real estate assets invested by pension funds in North America account for 46 percent of the total, followed by Europe (35 percent) and the Asia-Pacific region, which doubled in 2010 and now account for 14 percent of the total.

Top 20 ranking

Pos., Name of parent org., Main country of domicile, Pension AuM  (USD mn), Total AuM (USD mn)

1. Macquarie Group, Australia, 60,317.4, 92,152.2                     

2. Prudential Financial, United States, 41,992.7, 44,767.3                            

3. J.P. Morgan Asset Mgmt., United States, 34,983.0, 39,111.0 

4. ING Real Estate Investment Mgmt., The Netherlands, 30,790.6, 88,507.5                            

5. AEW Capital Management, L.P., United States, 27,639.4, 45,067.2      

6. CB Richard Ellis Investors, United States, 27,400.0, 37,600.0  

7. Morgan Stanley, United States, 25,941.0, 63,059.0

8. Jones Lang LaSalle, United States, 24,556.0, 43,023.0              

9. RREEF , United States, 21,872.8, 43,500.5 

10. HarbourVest Partners, LLC, United States, 21,684.9, 32,888.0             

11. Principal Global Investors, United States, 20,495.2, 35,437.7             

12. Heitman, United States, 19,046.7, 22,385.5              

13. UBS Global Asset Management, United Kingdom, 18,240.0, 57,596.0               

14. Credit Suisse Asset Mgmt., United States, 17,158.5, 32,438.2               

15. Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Canada, 17,148.5, 58,019.0        

16. Pantheon Ventures, United Kingdom, 16,443.0, 22,955.0     

17. Blackstone Alt. Asset Mgmt. L.P., United States, 15,930.0, 32,923.0  

18. Invesco Ltd., Bermuda, 15,200.3, 36,486.7             

19. Adams Street Partners, LLC, United States, 14,975.7, 19,559.2          

20. J.P. Morgan Asset Management, United States, 14,638.3, 19,713.4