Swedish roundup: AP7, AP6, KVD Kvarndammen, Peter Norman, Handelsbanken

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  • Swedish roundup: AP7, AP6, KVD Kvarndammen, Peter Norman, Handelsbanken

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SWEDEN - Richard Gröttheim is taking over as chief executive at AP7 following the departure of Peter Norman, who joined the government as financial markets minister.

The board said selecting Gröttheim was a natural choice, as he's been with AP7 for 10 years.

Gröttheim was earlier Norman's deputy and responsible for asset management. There is not yet a replacement yet for his previous role.

Meanwhile, the results of the Swedish government's evaluation of the AP funds for 2009 have been published and show the funds have largely recouped the assets lost during the financial crisis.

The Finance Committee said in its report that the buffer-funds (AP1-4 and AP6) returned more than 19% for the full year 2009, adding SEK136bn (€15bn) to their coffers.

Despite this, the AP funds' contribution to the financing of the country's pension system since 2001 remains negative.

The committee said the long-term results of the funds should be judged carefully due to the turbulence of the past 10 years, with capital markets having had two major corrections.

Following pension reform, the annual return of the buffer funds has been 3.2%, with inflation discounted 1.6%, which is less than the income index has risen.

The index is the basis for the annual accounting of the pension assets in the system, which means the buffer funds are lagging.

Elsewhere, AP6 has sold its shares in KVD Kvarndammen, an auction and evaluations company, for SEK550m to Ratos, a Swedish private equity company.

KVD is one of the largest independent conveyors of passenger cars.

The deal is subject to the approval of the competition authorities and is expected to be concluded in January.

In other news, Peter Norman, the recently appointed financial markets minister, has said the two challenges faced by the insurance industry are the implementation of new regulations such as Solvency II and the role of consumers.

He is adamant consumers should not foot the bill for the implementation of Solvency II, which many are worried about.

Norman argues that it is unreasonable for insurance companies to transfer the costs to consumers and that the industry is an area where the consumer is the "underdog" when it comes to information.

He believes regulatory changes are necessary to improve consumer rights and protection, but is at the same time hoping the insurance industry will want to take responsibility for the issues.

He urged the industry to come up with a code of conduct about how product information should be presented. 

At the same time, he highlighted, managed by the Swedish Pension Authority, as an important project and tool for customers to get a good overview of their entire pension entitlement.

Norman said he would also like to see portability introduced, as the majority of pensions are not portable. He said this was beneficial for neither competition nor consumer rights.

Lastly, Snorre Storset, chief executive at Handelsbanken, is leaving the company for "new challenges".

Lennart Söderberg of Handelsbanken Capital Markets will take over in the interim.

The search for a permanent replacement is underway.

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