SWEDEN – AP3, whose chairman was fired by the government last year, says its chief executive Tomas Nicolin is to leave and join Alecta.

The 14 billion-euro Tredje AP-fonden said in a statement that Nicolin is to become the head of Alecta, Sweden's largest mutual pension company.

“The exact time of the shift is still to be determined,” it said. Nicolin will take over from Alecta’s chief executive Lars Otterbeck, who is to retire this year aged 62.

In September last year the Swedish government fired AP3’s chairman Johan Bjorkman following an investigation into alleged insider trading and tax crime that did not directly involve AP3. He was replaced in November by Claes de Neergaard.

Nicolin has been head of AP3 since 1998. Before that he was head of Handelsbanken Markets Asset Management.

Alecta’s chairman, former Swedish finance minister Erik Åsbrink, spoke of his “great satisfaction” with the appointment, adding that Nicolin was the right person for the role.

Alecta, formerly known as Sveriges Privatanstalldas Pensionskassa, or SPP, is the largest occupational pension company in the Nordic region. Its core business is the ITP occupational pension. In August it posted a five percent return on investments in the first half. And it said its post-tax profit was 11.5 billion crowns, against a 29 billion-crown loss a year before.

AP3 is set to announce its 2003 returns on February 16. In August it announced a first-half return of 6.9%.

Alecta manages more than 35 billion dollars in assets. In November it hired Nordea’s Peter van Berlekom as its new head of equities.