​Unipension CEO quits after pension funds jump to Sampension [updated]

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Denmark’s Unipension, set up by three professional pension funds to manage their assets and administration collectively, has lost two of the funds to rival Sampension.

Further, its chief executive has quit over the crisis.

Cristina Lage, chief executive at Unipension, which currently manages DKK119bn (€16bn) on behalf of the three pension funds, decided to resign from the role in connection with “the divorce”, the pensions administrator said.

She will be replaced by Jens Munch Holst, Unipension’s CFO and CDO.

The Architects’ Pension Fund (AP) and the Pension Fund for Agricultural Academics and Veterinary Surgeons (PJD) have decided to move their administration and asset management to Sampension – Denmark’s third-largest non-statutory pensions provider – while MP Pension (MP) for Danish M.A.s, M.Sc.s and PhDs is staying put.

The chairmen of the three pension funds said in a joint statement: “We could not find a common way forward.”

Erik Bisgaard Madsen and Mette Carstad, chairmen of PJD and the Architects’ Pension Fund, respectively, said: “We didn’t feel we could make a cooperation go quickly enough in the direction we wanted.”

The funds, for example, had been unable to agree on the conditions and principles for a joint investment advice arm, which would have been able to generate revenue and reduce Unipension’s costs – and costs were a key issue for the two pension funds, the chairmen said.

The three funds established Unipension in 2008.

For its part, Sampension said the new cooperation with the two pension funds would mean lower overall costs.

Hasse Jørgensen, chief executive of Sampension, said: “We only have one goal, and that is to create the most value possible for members.”

He said the organisation did not have owners that drew a lot of money out of the business.

Sampension said the addition of the two pension funds would increase its total assets under management by just under DKK25bn to DKK280bn, and add 18,000 members.

Jørgensen told IPE his company was very pleased with the double deal.

“It is a business win and within a very important part of our strategy, which is to grow our volume further and make the costs as low as possible for current Sampension members, as well as for pension plans moving to us,” he said.

Sampension said the two pension funds would retain much independence under the new cooperation.

This is a total outsourcing, said Jørgensen, under which the two pension funds will be separate legal entities with their own boards.

They will be able to decide on their own investment strategies and their own stance on corporate social responsibility (CSR), among other things.

Sampension said the pension funds would retain their own brand identities.

Jørgensen said this was the first time pension funds had moved their assets to Sampension under these particular terms, and that this had been the starting point for discussions between the parties.

Meanwhile, the chairman of MP Pension Tina Mose said the other two pension funds in Unipension had pressed to reduce the proportion of costs in the cooperation.

She said Jens Munch Holst would take the helm at Unipension until 31 December 2016, which has been set as the last day of the three-pension-fund cooperation, according to the termination agreement.

However, this date could be brought forward if the parties agree, Unipension said.

The parties have elected a steering committee to implement the split step-by-step, it said.

MP Pension is to continue pensions administration for its almost 109,000 membership, carrying this out from the premises in the town of Gentofte that is currently home to Unipension.

At the end of 2016, the name Unipension will then disappear, the parties said.

Mose said MP Pension was large enough to run itself.

“In the short term, it will be a little expensive for our members,” she said.

However, the other two pension funds are sharing the costs of the split, she said.

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