EUROPE - Norway's regulator, Finanstilsynet, has lifted a ban on hedge fund sales and marketing to institutional investors in the country.

Few restrictions apply to the 'special funds' category, as Norway wants to be competitive on an international level.

According to the regulator, a number of both domestic and international companies have already applied to set up or market hedge funds in Norway.

Some large Norwegian investors such as KLP Kapitalforvaltning already manage hedge fund assets, but are registered elsewhere, such as Dublin, and are expected to relocate to Norway.

The new rules for 'special funds' came into force on 1 July, but a ban on marketing and sales of hedge funds to retail investors remains.

According to a study by Sweden's KPA Pension, the pension insurance provider, customers find it important that pension funds have an active corporate governance strategy. 

Kerstin Grönwall, head of environment at KPA, said its urging for responsible environmental policies had strong support.

The catalyst for the study, in which more than 1,000 people participated, was the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the ongoing debate about whether companies should invest in the oil sector.

According to the study, more than half of respondents believe pension providers should invest in sectors with environmental risks to be able to pressure companies to clean up their acts and improve their environmental work, including companies involved in oil sands exploration.

Only a quarter believe pressure from investors has no effect.

The survey also showed that more than half believe ethical investing will, in the long term, give equal or better returns than other investments. 

Customer relationships are the driving force in selecting an asset management provider, according to a survey by Collectum, the administrator of ITP, the occupational pensions for professional employees.

Almost a third, or 28%, of Swedish salaried employees choose their existing insurance company or bank to invest their supplementary occupational pension assets.

There are 10 companies within the ITP system, with 240,000 members, eligible for selection.

Some 17% say brand recognition is the most important factor, while only 12% say low fees are the most important reason in the selection process.

The Swedish government has appointed Lars Josefsson as vice-chairman of AP3, one of the national buffer funds.

Josefsson previously was the of chief executive of Vattenfall, the utilities company, and defence company Celsius.

Additionally, Ola Alfredson, chief executive of Kockums, the maritime and naval technology company, has been appointed as a member of the board of AP2, while the governor of Östergötland, Elisabeth Nilsson, has been appointed as a member of the board of AP4.