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AP Pension denies CEO quit over pressure to invest in farms

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AP Pension, the Danish labour-market pensions provider, has hit out at media reports that its chief executive quit in December because of pressure from the supervisory board to invest in the agricultural sector.

The media reports, from newspaper Jyllands-Posten and the online news site finans.dk, cited only anonymous sources. AP Pension claimed the publications’ interpretation of events had “no basis in reality”.

Bo Normann Rasmussen, acting chief executive of AP Pension, said: “I strongly reject that directors of AP Pension ever attempted to get AP Pension to make investments for the benefit of the companies where they are employed.”

Søren Dal Thomsen left his job as chief executive of AP Pension suddenly in December, having led the customer-owned pensions provider for many years.

He said at the time that he had decided to look for new challenges, after talking to the supervisory board leadership about the skills the company would need in the future.

Over the last few years, AP Pension has been actively making investments in farmland.

In April 2015, it proposed a new deal to buy agricultural land in eastern Romania and lease it back to the Danish company FirstFarms that would be operating farms on the land. The previous year, the pension fund set up Dansk Farmland, a new fund to invest DKK600m (€80.7m) in Danish agricultural land and buildings, aiming to buy farms and lease them back to the individual farmers.

The chairman of AP Pension’s supervisory board, Niels Dengsø Jensen, is a farm owner.

AP Pension, which will be 100 years old in 2019, has its roots in the Danish cooperative movement.

“I have participated in all board meetings over the past six years, and I have repeatedly heard board members stress that it is for them is important that there is no confusion of interests,” Rasmussen said.

He said the supervisory board did not interfere with the normal operation of AP Pension. 

“The investments AP Pension has made in Danish agriculture have been based on a draft proposal from the executive board and a concrete recommendation to the board,” he said.

AP Pension said that it had been part of a controlled offensive investment policy to invest in individual Danish farms for several years.

“It took place as part of a strategy for alternative investments to obtain attractive returns with controlled risk,” the pension fund said.

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