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AP7’s Peter Norman hired in ministerial reshuffle

The appointment of Peter Norman, former head of AP7, as the Swedish minister for financial markets, replacing Mats Odell, caught both the political and financial sectors by surprise. Those in financial markets were surprised that the politicians managed to make an unusually savvy choice, while those in finance were surprised to see the veteran leave for a life in politics.

However, most agree Norman's move was not that surprising if you look behind the more obvious facts. "Peter has been making subtle noise about possibly wanting to move on from AP7, and considering his experience and his role in cleaning up the Carnegie mess, where he was brought in as chairman in 2008, it is not surprising he was noticed by the political elite," one commentator said.

Of course, it does not hurt that Norman is a long-term friend of Anders Borg, the minister of finance. At one point, Norman was Borg's boss at the Riksbanken, the central bank of Sweden, and the two also worked together at Alfred Berg. Commentators believe the close personal relationship will make the working relationship successful, as the two are of similar minds.

The other AP funds and large institutional investors, which see Norman as a champion of sensible regulation, have welcomed the move. But what will his appointment mean for pensions?

Some of the issues Norman has been vocal about in the past have been the reduction of the number of funds within the country's premium pension system administered by the Swedish Pensions Agency, high fees charged by fund management companies, the bonus culture of companies and general consumer rights issues - so the industry is keenly awaiting his moves.

Following the ministerial changes, it is expected that Pensionsgruppen - a working group created in 2008 to monitor the industry and recommend reforms, where five of Sweden's political parties in government are - will also have to be reshuffled, and that Norman is likely to have an influence on what is on top of the agenda.

The current chairman, Christina Husmark Pehrson, has also lost her position as social security minister to Ulf Kristersson and is likely to be replaced at the working group.
Furthermore, the Green Party and the controversial Sweden Democrats - a party with roots in the neo-Nazi movement - which are in parliament for the first time, are also vying for positions within the group.

Apart from pensions, one of Norman's first and most closely watched decisions will be how he progresses with the sale of state-owned companies.

It is certainly interesting to see how he will navigate the quagmire that is Swedish politics.

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