FINLAND - The Local Government Pension Insitution (Keva) has appointed Merja Ailus as its new chief executive.

She was not unanimously selected to be CEO by the fund's governing council, although Ailus did receive 19 of the 20 votes. And from an original long list of 20 candidates and a shortlist of eight, she was one of the few women who applied.

It is yet to be decided when Ailus will take up her new role. She is currently the president of Finland's Federation of Public and Private Sector Employees (Jyty), a trade union for municipalities and church employees.

Keva's existing deputy CEO, Timo Viherkenttä, received 10 votes from the board and is now planning to take sabbatical leave, so he may focus on a writing project.

The other internal Keva candidate for the CEO role was Jari Sokka, currently executive director for statistics and actuarial affairs while the other hopefuls came from various public, local authority, finance and banking organisations in Finland where they hold key positions.

The search for a new CEO started in the summer following the resignation of Markku Kauppinen over allegations of corruption. He was cleared of any wrongdoing but felt his position was untenable and would undermine the credibility of pensions and more specifically the fund itself.

After an abysmal 2008 where returns fell 20.6% the fund is again back in black, returning 15.5% for the nine months to the end of September.

In other Finnish news, the Central Church of Finland pension fund, with assets of approximately €680m, has agreed to transfer the administration of its scheme to LGPI between 2008 and 2011. LGPI is also in discussions with the Bank of Finland for a similar deal as well as with Kansaneläkelaitos, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, which provides social security benefits to the nation.