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​Sweden goes fossil free with €4.3bn of premium pension assets

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The Swedish Pensions Agency (Pensionsmyndigheten) proclaimed the assets behind the guaranteed-yield, or traditional savings portion of the population-wide premium pension in payment to be fossil free after completing a three-year divestment of oil, gas and coal stocks and bonds from its SEK45bn (€4.3bn) of assets.

Erik Fransson, head of the funds marketplace department of the Pensions Agency, said: “We have now changed the portfolio to become fossil-free as the last shares in the gas, coal and oil sectors have been sold.

“Instead, part of the capital is being directed to companies that are part of the solution to our climate problem, for example in renewable energy and energy efficiency,” he said.

Fransson said he was convinced the transition would benefit savers’ returns over time, partly because fossil assets could suddenly lose value.

Holdings in companies exposed to fossil fuels had been gradually reduced since 2016, and companies whose main business consists of the production and distribution of fossil fuels had now been eliminated, the agency said.

The divestment has also included securities issued by other contentious sectors.

“Companies whose main activities are weapons, alcohol, tobacco, gambling and pornography have also been excluded from the equity portfolio,” the Pensions Agency said.

Under the rules of the first-pillar premium pension system, which is the defined contribution part of Sweden’s overall state pension, people can decide to take their pension as traditional life insurance – which provides a guaranteed minimum monthly pension – or to keep their savings in funds.

Around 324,000 Swedish pensioners opt to take out their pension as traditional life insurance compared to the approximately 1.33m who take it out as unit-linked insurance.

The agency, which also gives Swedes information on their entire state pension, manages the traditional insurance portfolio of pensions in payment.

This consists of bonds and equities currently worth SEK45bn, with bonds matching the guaranteed amount of SEK29bn and the remaining SEK16bn being placed in equities.

In the first three quarters of 2019, the portfolio made a total return of 18.0%, the agency said.

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