Two of Denmark’s biggest pension funds have been on a recruitment roundabout, with Danica Real Estate losing its managing director to ATP Real Estate – and the former long-time ATP property chief then being hired by Danica to take over the top property job there.

The real estate subsidiary of Denmark’s DKK886bn (€118bn) statutory pension fund ATP has hired André Scharf away from Danica Pension’s real estate business, expanding its investment team, it said, to manage the “sharply increased project development activity in the portfolio.”

Scharf will work as CIO (investeringsdirektør) alongside CIO Kenneth Olsson, and be in charge of developing the asset management function as well as foreign investments, the firm announced. Olsson is responsible for transactions and project development in Denmark, it said.

Scharf was promoted to the role of managing director at Danica Real Estate (Danica Ejendomme) in 2017 after its previous head Peter Mering stepped back from leadership for health reasons.

Martin Vang Hansen, ATP Real Estate chief executive officer, said: “The growth in the development portfolio means that we need to expand the organisation.

“With the recruitment of André Scharf, who has experience in real estate investments both at home and abroad, we are strengthening our focus on both asset management and project development, which will account for a lot of our work in the future,” he added.

Olsson said: “We are to develop around DKK10bn of projects and that will require our full attention. That is why I am delighted that André has come on board to run ATP Real Estate’s commercial activities in collaboration with me.”

André Scharf at ATP

André Scharf, cio at ATP Real Estate

Since Vang Hansen took over leadership of ATP Real Estate in January last year from long-standing chief Michael Nielsen, he has made some changes in the management structure creating several new roles.

Vang Hansen told IPE Real Assets last November about the operation’s new strategy, which involved more focus on its development pipeline and improving existing domestic assets by optimising rent levels and property administration, and making buildings more sustainable.

ATP Real Estate said Scharf would take up the new role on 4 May, and also become a member of its executive board, which currently includes Hansen, Olsson and property management director Christian Hartmann.

Meanwhile, Danica Pension has announced that former ATP Real Estate chief Nielsen has been appointed as the new managing director of its property arm, replacing Scharf, and starting on 1 May.

Ole Krogh Petersen, CEO of Danica Pension, said: “Danica Real Estate is facing an exciting period with the completion of a number of major housing development projects, and we are confident that Michael is the right one to ensure we deliver attractive properties that develop the cities and areas they are a part of, and which at the same time contribute to attractive returns for our pension customers.”

Nielsen knows Danica Real Estate well because of his position on its board of directors, Krogh Petersen said.

Nielsen said: “Danica has one of the most exciting real estate portfolios on the market with great significance for society and the many pension customers.”