FINLAND – Finland's financial regulator has granted Kesko, one of the country's largest retailers, permission to reclaim a €71m pension funding surplus from its company scheme.

The decision comes nearly three years after the retailer announced it would shift part of the Kesko Pension Fund's liabilities to the €29.1bn Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance Company.

The transfer, completed in two stages in late 2010 and early 2012, saw responsibility for the pension and insurance entitlements of 8,700 employees shift to the pension provider.

Following the successful transfer of Department B, which excluded other supplementary pension entitlements that would remain in-house, Kesko then sought permission to reclaim the pension surplus amassed in the fund.

In a statement released to the Helsinki Stock Exchange, the retailer said: "The surplus to be returned from the pension fund to the group companies will generate a cash inflow of approximately €71m.

"The refund will also contribute approximately €15m to Kesko's operating profit excluding non-recurring items for the fourth quarter."

At the time the initial transfer was announced, the company said €380m in assets would be transferred to Ilmarinen – covering the fund's liabilities and solvency margin.

The pension fund in 2009 bought four retail properties in a €50m sale and leaseback deal with its parent company.

As part of the transfer to Ilmarinen, some of these assets were sold to a joint venture owned by the retailer, pension fund and pension provider.