EUROPE - The average return for all of the funds in Sweden’s defined contribution premium pension system came to -10.7% for the full year 2011.

The results mark the fourth full-year loss since the first full-year returns were calculated in 2001.

The last negative return was reported for 2008, while the annual return since inception has been 2.8%.

Assets in the system - boasting nearly 770 pension funds - came to more than SEK393bn (€44.3bn) as at the end of 2011.

AP7 - the default option for participants who do not make an active selection - fared slightly better than the average fund, losing -10.5%.

AP7 is now the most popular fund within the Swedish system.

Among the Top 10 most selected funds, none falls from outside the Nordic region.

Two out of the 10 are funds managed by Skagen Funds, a Norwegian fund management company. The remainder are large Swedish banks or pension insurance providers.

Four non-Nordic players were among the Top 10 performers over a five-period.

F&C’s emerging markets bond fund was the best-performing international provider, returning 9% over the period.

SEB’s Navigera funds were the top performers over five years, with both the equity fund and emerging markets funds returning 14% over the period.

In general, bond funds performed well in 2011, but the top performer was the Top 25 Pharmaceuticals fund, managed by Seligson & Co, a Finnish fund management company, which returned 15%.

At the other end of the spectrum, Trigon Capital’s emerging agriculture fund fell by 51%, while its Balkan fund lost 43% over the period.

In other news, a preliminary report on Sweden’s retirement age has been postponed.

The report had been expected by the end of this month, but has now been pushed back to April.

According to the ministry of health and social affairs, the inquiry is awaiting additional information from Premiepensionsmyndigheten, the Swedish Pensions Agency, which has led to the delay.

The final results for the inquiry are still expected by next April.