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Nordic roundup: AP fund inquiry, OP-Pohjola, Skandia Life Finland

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  • Nordic roundup: AP fund inquiry, OP-Pohjola, Skandia Life Finland

EUROPE - The inquiry into Sweden's national buffer funds, chaired by Mats Langensjö, is expected to kick off on 19 January with a closed hearing.

Participants in the inquiry have invited academics, industry experts and representatives from other national buffer funds to join the meeting in order to get "new points of view" on the AP funds.

According to Langensjö, the hearing will tackle a number of issues stipulated by law - such as how the AP funds invest in alternatives, among other things - and ultimately help inquiry participants formulate a proposal on possible changes.

Two secretaries and a team of nine experts within the pensions field were named as part of the inquiry last October.

These include Sarah McPhee, chief executive at SPP, the pension insurer owned by Norway's Storebrand; Lars Rodhe, chief executive at ATP, the largest institutional investor in Denmark; and Paul Söderlind, professor at the University of St Gallen.

There are also two experts from the department of finance and the Pensions Agency, as well as two others from the private sector.

At the end of September, the government hired Langensjö, a former managing director at consultancy Aon Hewitt, for a review of the AP system that could result in the closure of two funds.

As part of the review, the investment rules and governance structures for the first four AP funds will be examined, as well as the benefits and risks that could be posed by a possible consolidation of their assets into fewer vehicles.

In other news, OP-Pohjola, the Finnish financial services provider, is buying Skandia Life Finland from Skandia Life Assurance, a subsidiary of Old Mutual.

The acquisition will involve the transfer of more than 100,000 unit-linked life and pensions policies worth €1.3bn to OP Pohjola.

Jarmo Kuisma, managing director at OP Life Assurance Company, said: "We were very interested when we became aware Skandia was intending to exit the Finnish market, as we saw this as an opportunity to expand our service proposition to Finnish customers.

"[Skandia Life Finland's] focus on the asset management business is in line with our group's strategy. Moreover, this deal will bring us a number of new customers."

Jyrki Thauvon, Skandia Life Finland's appointed head agent, said: "We are very pleased to have reached this agreement with OP-Pohjola, as we believe it is in the best interests of our customers.

"Old Mutual's decision to sell its Finnish operations is driven by its strategic priority to streamline and simplify its structure."

The deal expected to close by the end of June, subject to regulatory approval.

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