Swedish pensions buffer fund AP1 said it has decided to raise the level of risk in its portfolio as it reported a 6.5% return on investments, after expenses, in the first six months of this year.

In its interim report, the fund said the first half return beat its target of 5.5% and was just below the average return of 6.7% it had produced over the last 10 years.

Johan Magnusson, AP1’s chief executive, said: “Following an in-depth strategy review, a decision has been made to raise the level of risk in the portfolio moving forward and thereby increase the probability of meeting the pension system’s long-term need for returns.”

The fund’s strategic approach had been to build a portfolio that was robust to major changes in value, he said.

He said the fund was ambitious when it came to sustainable value creation.

“We own relatively few companies, since our investments are based on active decisions about what the fund should own, and why,” Magnusson said. 

“A long investment horizon and a concentrated portfolio are key factors for the fund’s sustainability work, since they create the conditions for our managers to be better informed about the companies the fund invests in,” he said.

In absolute terms, AP1’s net investment income after expenses was SEK16.6bn (€1.8bn) in the January-to-June period, up from SEK9.5bn in the same period last year.

Net assets under management grew by SEK14.2bn since the end of December to SEK266.7bn at the end of June.

AP1 is one of five AP funds that support the Swedish national income pension system — AP1 to AP4 and AP6.

These five AP funds are set to be consolidated into just three funds, following extensive reviews of the buffer fund system, but details of the proposed restructuring have yet to be hammered out.

Meanwhile, AP7 — the AP fund that operates the default option for the premium pension system (PPM) — generated a return for its equity fund of 14.7%, compared to the 34.0% produced for the full year 2013.

AP7 said the equity fund return had beaten the benchmark by 0.15 percentage points.

Total assets in the equity fund increased to SEK198.6bn from SEK173.5bn at the end of December 2013, according to the fund’s interim report.

The bond portfolio produced a 1.55% return in the six-month period, compared to 1.8% for the whole of 2013. 

Assets in this portfolio grew to SEK12.9bn from SEK12.7bn at the end of last year.

In its report, AP7 attributed the high level of return on its equity fund to the upswing on global equity markets, which was intensified with gearing.

The outperformance was due to the fund’s active management which had made a SEK87.1m contribution, it said, and also to the fact that private equity had performed better than global equities.

The equity fund consists of 97% global equities and 3% private equity.

However, tactical allocation had detracted SEK147.2m from the fund’s potential returns in the period, AP7 said.