EUROPE - AP7, the default fund within the national defined contribution pensions system in Sweden, is evaluating its asset management style based on alpha/beta separation during October.

The style of management was introduced in 2006 and has produced positive results.

The study will be an in-depth analysis of the alpha/beta model and seek to answer questions on whether or not the style has generated returns in the manner expected, in both bear and bull markets.

Richard Gröttheim, chief executive at AP7, said that, after a five-year period, it was time for an evaluation, and that the aim was to find options for how to structure asset management in future.

An external investment consultant will conduct the study, which is expected in the first quarter of 2012.

In other news, AP6, one of the Swedish national buffer funds, is selling one if its investments, Meca, for SEK2bn (€220m), making a profit of SEK800m.

Meca, a leading player in the Scandinavian market for spare parts for cars and workshop equipment and tools for garages and their partners, was sold to Mekonomen, a leading spare-parts chain with proprietary wholesale operations in Scandinavia.

Marianne Dicander Alexandersson, chief executive at AP6, said the scheme had taken Meca from a local company to leading player in its field, and that, with an owner such as Mekonomen, the company would continue its successful development.

The sale is both a cash and equity deal giving AP6 an 8.6% share of Mekonomen, giving the scheme a hand in the continued development of the company.

The deal is subject to approval by Swedish and Norwegian competition authorities.

Meanwhile, Storebrand has stepped up its focus on sustainability, making three new appointments in the field as part of its philosophy that sustainability is vital for achieving the best long-term returns.

Jonas Ahlèn has been appointed as head of investments for microfinance. He joins from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, where he was responsible for the loans and guarantees programme. He has previously worked at investment banks in London.

Unn Hofstad has been appointed as head of environment and climate at Storebrand Eiendom, the property arm of Storebrand. 

She joins from Lier local authority in Norway, where she has been an adviser on environment and social development. 

Stina Billinger, currently head of sustainability at Storebrand's subsidiary SPP in Sweden, has been named overall head of sustainability.

Idar Kreutzer, chief executive at Storebrand, said customers expected their pension income to be achieved through sustainable and responsible investments.

Storebrand has 16 years of experience in the field of sustainable investments, he said, where it "promotes the best and blacklists the worst" to push for improvement.

The three new appointments will boost competence, enabling Storebrand to strengthen its investment decisions based on sustainable criteria, he added.

Lastly, Harry Wide, one of the most experienced actuaries and pensions experts in Sweden, has joined Wassum in an actuarial role.

Wide has previously worked at Skandia, the pension provider and asset management group, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Jan Bernhard Waager, chief executive at Wassum, said that, through the appointment of Wide and the recent acquisition of Invensure in Denmark, the company would be able to offer new and old customers further expertise in the areas of pensions and actuarial issues such as liability valuations, Solvency II and life and fund products.

According to Wassum, the Danish market is ahead of the Swedish one in terms of experience in market valuation of assets and liabilities, which is the basic element in the Solvency II issue.

Through the appointment of Wide, this competency will now also be available within Wassum from a Swedish perspective, he said.