Troubled Swedish occupational pensions giant Alecta has poached Pablo Bernengo from national pensions buffer fund AP3 to become its new CIO from January, according to an announcement this morning.

Today’s news means Alecta, which was forced to turn its investment strategy around after revealing huge losses on niche US bank stocks in March, has at last lined up a permanent top team of chief executive officer and CIO.

Bernengo said: “Alecta is an important player in the Swedish pension system and on the capital market.

“I look forward to meeting all employees and, together with them, continue to develop asset management.” 

Katarina Thorslund -  acting CEO of the SEK1.21trn (€103bn) pensions firm since long-term chief Magnus Billing was fired in April - said she was very happy to welcome Bernengo as the new head of Alecta’s asset management.

“His long experience in asset management and as a leader in various organisations will be very valuable to us, not least in the ongoing work within the framework of the strategic review of the asset management model,” she said.

Peder Hasslev, chair of Denmark’s PFA and CEO of Swedish state-owned venture capital company Saminvest, was announced two months ago as Alecta’s new permanent CEO, and is set to start work in the role from 1 September.

Alecta announced in the middle of June that it was starting the hunt for a new permanent CIO, saying that Henrik Gade Jepsen, who had been on sick leave since last year due to severe COVID complications, was officially leaving the company.

When Bernengo arrives at Alecta’s Stockholm offices in January 2024, he will take the reins from another former AP3 CIO, Kerim Kaskal, who has been acting CIO at Alecta since the start of April.

At that time, the pensions firm was knee-deep in the mess that followed losses of SEK19.6bn on its investments in Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and First Republic Bank during the US bank crisis in March.

A spokeswoman for AP3, one of the four large buffer funds backing Sweden’s state income pension system, told IPE that its recruitment of a replacement for Bernengo would start now.

Staffan Hansén, CEO of AP3, said: “Pablo is an appreciated colleague and talented leader who has made a big impression during his four years at AP3.

“I wish Pablo all the best and success in his new assignment when he takes up his position and until then, I look forward to continue the good cooperation with Pablo at AP3.” 

Last year, AP3 turned in the narrowest investment loss of all four buffer funds, beating AP1, AP2 and AP4 despite the minus 5.8% return.

Before joining AP3 in 2019, Bernengo was CIO, then CEO, of Öhman Fonder, after a 10-year stint at DNB Asset Management as portfolio manager.

In an interview in the current issue of IPE magazine, Bernengo said he oversaw a significant strategic shift at AP3 since becoming CIO, whereby the pensions buffer fund internalised the management of a large share of the assets that had been managed externally and passively.

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