FINLAND - The pension fund for Finland's Alko, the state-owned alcoholic beverage retailer, has transferred the management of its statutory and supplementary pension provision to two insurance companies.

From 1 December, Ilmarinen, one of the largest pension providers in the country, will be responsible for the €140m statutory fund, while OP Henkivakuutus, one of the largest life insurers in Finland, will manage the €240m supplementary fund.

The supplementary fund was created for employees who joined Alko before 1 January 1992.  The Alko fund covers more than 2,600 employees and 1,900 pensioners.

With the news of the transfer, Alko follows a trend set by a number of other employee-sponsored funds in the country.

In recent months, several companies - including Rautaruukki, Kemira, Evli, Autotarvike and Finnish Fur Sales, Neste Oil, Kesko, PlusTerveys and the pension fund for the Finnish state railways, VR - have all closed their statutory funds and transferred the liabilities to insurance-based pensions providers.

Jaakko Uotila, chief executive of Alko and chairman of the fund's board, said that, by transferring the management of the pensions to insurance providers, the company could focus on its core business and staff development.

He said Ilmarinen was selected because of its customer-service resources, including internet-based channels.

In addition, its solvency and long-term investment returns were deemed as best within the industry.

OP was selected because of its strength of experience, expertise and technological know-how.

In addition, Ilmarinen and OP have a cooperation agreement that enables customers to manage their pensions in one place.