SWEDEN - Prominent Norwegian politician Thorvald Stoltenberg, will join eastern Europe specialist asset manager East Capital's investment committee, it was announced this morning.

From today, the 75-year old Stoltenberg, best known as Norway's former foreign and defence minister and UN special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, will replace Carl Bildt as Balkan expert.

Bildt left the committee following his appointment as Sweden's foreign minister in October last year.

The Stockholm-based working group, consisting of five internal and three external members who meet six times a year, makes forecasts as to how eastern Europe is expected to develop politically and economically for the coming 12 to 18 months.

The political and economic analyses are used internally to support the fund managers for the countries, all over Eastern Europe, in which East Capital invests, Katrine Hirn, East Capital's managing director, told IPE in an interview.

Stoltenberg, whose son Jens is Norway's current prime minister, commented on his move: "I look forward to working with East Capital, not least because of the important contributions the company is making to the development of the Balkans as a regions."

The other external members of the committee, which was set up in 2002, are Örjan Berner, Sweden's former ambassador to Russia, and Bengt Dennis, former Swedish central bank governor and Baltic expert. The internal members are several of the firm's fund managers and Ms Hirn.

The firm, specialising in eastern European financial markets, has around €3.8bn  in assets under management, both in public and private equity, 20% of which are institutional assets.