Danish labour-market pensions provider Sampension has won a large corporate pensions contract from retail chain Sportsmaster to provide pensions for its staff of more than 1,000, ousting the current provider Nordea Life & Pensions.

The DKK264bn (€35.4bn) pension fund said the Sportmaster contract was the first large company scheme it had taken on after deciding at the end of 2015 to focus more broadly on small and medium-sized businesses as a supplement to the collectively agreed labour-market schemes.

Hasse Jørgensen, chief executive at Sampension, said: “Every time a big company puts their pension out to tender, there is a particularly thorough selection process, and we are proud the overall package of products, prices and services has matched the customer’s expectations in a market characterised by tough competition.”

Chris Bigler, CFO at Sportmaster, said: “In Sampension, we saw the strongest combination of an effective administration set-up, the ability to generate attractive returns and good insurance.” 

Sampension won a contract from IT and software company KMD to provide a unified pension scheme for its workforce, which now totals more than 3,200 in late 2014, taking on around DKK3bn of existing pension savings.

In December last year, the Architects’ Pension Fund (AP) and the Pension Fund for Agricultural Academics and Veterinary Surgeons (PJD) decided to move their administration and asset management to Sampension from Unipension, in a move that will involve about 19,000 pension scheme members, and the transfer of around DKK25bn in assets.  

The Sportmaster contract has been seen in Denmark as potentially marking a change in the pensions industry, as it is the first time a labour-market pension provider has won a major private-sector contract.

In other news, Danish pension providers PFA and PKA announced they have linked up with private equity firm Axcel to buy a majority stake in Danish shipping finance company Danmarks Skibskredit from Danske Bank, Nordea and others for DKK4.25bn.

PKA, which runs three health and social care sector pension funds, said it saw good chances for the company to increase its earnings once the market in which it operates improved. 

In the deal, Danske Bank, Danmarks Nationalbank (the Danish central bank), shipping giant AP Møller-Mærsk and Nordea Bank sold their ownership stake consisting of 72% of the equity capital of the shipping finance firm to a consortium made up of Axcel, PFA and PKA.

Anders Damgaard, group finance director at PFA, said: “Danmarks Skibskredit is a solid business with a unique business model.”

He said the company was a specialist within its field and its loss history and client list testified to a professionally run firm with a good market position.

PKA CIO Michael Nellemann Pedersen said the pensions company believed it could continue with the good work that had already gone into the Danmarks Skibskredit, and that having new ownership would strengthen the firm. 

“At the same time, we see good opportunities for the company to increase its earnings, when the market comes to a time when it is in calmer waters,” he said.

Peter Lybecker, chairman of Danmarks Skibskredit, said the company’s major shareholders had been in talks with several interested potential buyers.

“In my opinion, Danmarks Skibskredit will get a particularly strong circle of owners in Axcel, PFA and PKA, who can support the company and speed up the continuing development of its shipping finance business for the benefit of staff, customers and cooperation partners,” he said.