Sweden’s biggest pension fund Alecta has now poached another top investment man from national pensions buffer fund AP3 as it rebuilds the organisation amid the fallout from US bank-losses scandal that engulfed Alecta earlier this year.

Having already lured Pablo Bernengo, AP3’s CIO since 2019, the crisis-hit occupational pensions giant announced this morning it has hired Magnus Tell, AP3’s head of equities, to run its own SEK450bn (€37.8bn) portfolio of shares.

Peder Hasslev, Alecta’s incoming chief executive officer, said: “I am very happy that we have now recruited Magnus as the new equity manager.

“His competence and leadership qualities will help strengthen the organisation and rebuild trust in Alecta’s asset management,” said Hasslev, who started his new job less than a fortnight ago.

Alecta said Tell would take up the new job no later than 28 November, which is more than a month before Bernengo – currently his line manager across town in Stockholm at AP3 – is due to take charge of investments on 1 January 2024.

Tell has worked at AP3 for 10 years, having been senior portfolio manager, asset allocation until May 2020. At that point, as part of the new CIO’s overhaul of AP3’s investment department, Bernengo singled out Tell to become one of three asset class leaders as head of equities.

Alecta, which has total assets of SEK1.21trn, said this morning that its equities portfolio was distributed across Europe and the US, with a focus in Sweden and the Nordics.

Magnus Tell at Alecta

Magnus Tell

Alecta stated in today’s announcement that the recruitment of Tell had been led by the company’s HR manager and coordinated with the newly-appointed CEO, pending the appointment of the regular head of asset management.

“This person has been informed about and confirmed the recruitment,” it added.

As permanent head of equities, Tell will replace Liselott Ledin, Alecta’s head of equity portfolio management – although under a changed title.

Ledin was one of the first heads to roll at Alecta in the immediate aftermath of the bank-loss revelations back in the spring, as part of immediate measures announced in early April by the long-term CEO Magnus Billing.

However Billing was sacked himself days later, and Alecta’s CIO Henrik Gade Jepsen, still on long-term sick leave due to COVID complications which had begun soon after he came to the firm in late 2022, was let go in June.

Since Ledin’s departure, Ann Grevelius – a member of Alecta’s board of directors – has been acting head of equities.

While Alecta has now succeeded in filling all three top vacancies left by the investment losses crisis, its problems are far from over with concerns over its major holding in Swedish residential property firm Heimstaden Bostad – valued at SEK50bn in Alecta’s annual report – reportedly now giving the Swedish FSA cause to investigate the problem.

Alecta confirmed last week it had hired lawyers to investigate whether the investment in the now cash-strapped Heimstaden Bostad made 10 years ago followed the rules.

At issue is the fact that Alecta owns 38% of the value of the firm, but only has 30% of the votes, while parent Heimstaden owns the same amount but has voting shares valued at 50.1%.

Alecta is now in talks to inject new capital into Heimstaden Bostad.

According to Swedish pensions newsletter Pensionsnyheterna, the Financial Services Authority now plans to review Alecta’s business with Heimstaden, but has yet to decide whether that probe will form part of the ongoing investigation into how Alecta came to make such large losses on three US niche bank holdings – or whether it will start a new parallel investigation.

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