FINLAND – Ilmarinen, the €15.9bn occupational pensions provider, has reduced its stake in insurance firm Pohjola to 9.24% as part of a transaction which has seen Suomi Mutual's holding in Pohjola rise to 49.64%.

“The changes in ownership proportions are based on a share transaction concluded between Suomi Mutual and Ilmarinen,” said Pohjola in a statement. Suomi Mutual bought 25.24m Pohjola shares from Ilmarinen -corresponding to 16.48%.

The transaction was made through call and put options specified in the shareholder agreement regarding Pohjola signed by Suomi Mutual and Ilmarinen in February last year.

Suomi Mutual's and Ilmarinen's holdings of votes and share capital in Pohjola on January 3, 2005 are follows:

Pohjola added that it would repurchase a maximum of 2m of its own shares from January 10. It said: “The shares will be acquired in order to develop the company's capital structure, to finance acquisitions or other arrangements, if any, to put into effect incentive systems of the company or its subsidiaries, or to be otherwise conveyed, or to be invalidated.”

The move comes against the background of a massive reform of Finland’s statutory earnings-related pension scheme which came into force at the start of this month.

The main aim is to encourage people to go on working and to keep the pension expenditure at a reasonable level. The reform also lays the foundation for harmonisation and simplification of the current pension legislation.