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Nordic roundup: Gustav Karner, Nobel Foundation, Solvency II, AP2 Women's Index

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  • Nordic roundup: Gustav Karner, Nobel Foundation, Solvency II, AP2 Women's Index

EUROPE - Gustav Karner, former CFO and head of asset management at Länsförsäkringar, has been appointed head of asset management at the Nobel Foundation.

Karner left Länsförsäkringar in February 2011 and is set to join the Nobel Foundation on 1 July, replacing John Vivstam.

A spokeswoman at the foundation said Vivstam was leaving to "seek new challenges", adding that the foundation had been pleased with his achievements.

She added that Karner was joining the foundation's investment committee, and that part of his role would be to monitor and evaluate the development of the foundation's different asset classes.

The Nobel Foundation - which recently revealed its intention to reduce the Nobel Prize money award from SEK10m (€1.1m) to SEK8m to prevent the "erosion" of its capital - currently has SEK3bn in assets, down by 2.6% compared with last year.

In other news, Sweden's department of finance has warned that the country will be unable to stick to the timetable for the implementation of Solvency II.

In a memorandum on the changes following the introduction of the legislation, the government argues that the inclusion of Solvency II in national law - scheduled for 30 June 2013 - as well as its implementation, from 1 January 2014, will need to be pushed back.

The government's inquiry, led by Daniel Barr, has looked into how to bring the new directive in line with national legislation, but it has not considered the Omnibus II Directive, which must be implemented before Solvency II.

According to the Swedish constitution, any legislative changes must go through due process - including a round of hearings - before any decisions on implementation can be taken.

The government has therefore argued there is insufficient time to "streamline" Swedish law before the 30 June 2013 deadline for Solvency II.

Meanwhile, the number of women on boards at Swedish companies is still less than one-quarter despite a number of government initiatives and intense lobbying, according to the 2012 AP2 Women's Index.

AP2, one of the country's national buffer funds, said women now make up only 22.7% of boards, compared with 22.9% last year.

However, the number of women in management positions continues to increase, reaching 16.3% this year, an all-time-high since the survey started in 2003.

Eva Halvarsson, chief executive at AP2, said: "This year marks 10 years since we started publishing the Women's Index, and there has been a positive development in the number of female board members and company managers in this time, even if numbers have occasionally fallen."

Halvarsson said the rate of change had nevertheless been "painstakingly slow".

"At the current pace, it would take 27 years before the share of female board members reached 50%, and 52 years - that is, until 2064 - before we would see women occupy 50% of company management positions," she said.

"It is important that as many as possible take action in order to achieve a more rapid pace of change. If not, we risk seeing a continued loss of expertise, which would have a negative impact both on the competitive power of companies and on society as a whole."

Lastly, the National Pensioners Organisation (PRO) has called on the government to abolish the country's national defined contribution system.

It said the 2.5% of salary that now goes into individual accounts should be diverted into the public system.

PRO argued that the Swedish pension system's foundation had been "lost", pointing to the fact that the gap between salaries and pensions had increased in recent years, and that pensioners pay more tax than employees.

It called for equal taxation for salaries and pensions, and for the basic guaranteed pension to be equal for everyone.

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