EUROPE - The first quarter brought higher assets under management for a large number of Nordic asset managers, as well as life and pensions providers.

Nordea registered the highest-ever net inflows of €2.1bn in institutional clients’ assets in the first quarter as a result of a major fixed income mandate in Denmark, as well as several international mandates with attractive margins.

Nordea gained 28 new international mandates in the last year.

In the first quarter, Nordea’s assets under management increased to €192bn, up 1% from year-end 2010, as a result of continued net inflow of €2.5bn.

During the first quarter, some 70% of all investment composites outperformed their respective benchmark, and over the past 36 months, 89% of the investment composites have outperformed their benchmarks.

Total income was €197m in the first quarter, down 5% compared with last quarter, but up 33% compared with the first quarter last year.

Higher assets under management contributed to a positive development in income in the first quarter, but the overall fall was a result of a decrease in performance fees, as these are only paid in the fourth quarter of a year.

Nordea Life & Pensions’ sales also set a record by reaching the highest-ever level in the first quarter, with gross written premiums of €1.7m.

The gross written premiums increased by 17% compared with the fourth quarter last year and by 23% compared with the first quarter last year.

Strong customer demand through the bank channel continued during the first quarter, with a continued focus on unit-linked products.

Assets under management in the life and pensions business were €44bn at the end of the first quarter, generated by a strong inflow in the unit-linked based portfolio.

Meanwhile, Swedbank’s asset management operations saw profits fall by 8% to SEK191m (€21.4m) compared to SEK208m in the first quarter 2010.

However, assets under management increased to SEK732bn from SEK695bn.

According to a statement fund, flows were affected by the global political unrest caused by volatile financial markets during the quarter.

To diversify risk, active investors fled equity funds, mainly in emerging markets, in favour of mixed and money market funds. 

The total gross inflow to Swedbank Robur funds was SEK 30.7bn. The net flow from institutional management was positive during the period at SEK3.2bn, mainly due to positive flows through a large mandate.

The asset management division comprises the Swedbank Robur Group and its operations in fund management, institutional and discretionary asset management.

Swedbank’s pensions and life business saw assets under management increase by SEK12bn to SEK201bn. The average return for its traditional pensions products was -0.7% for the quarter.

Rival Handelsebanken also saw a boost to assets under management to SEK596bn from SEK548bn during the same period last year.

In the insurance operations, assets under management remained level at SEK75m, and overall commission income grew to SEK152m from SEK106m, as a result of a higher yield split in the life insurance company.

Elsewhere, AMF, the Swedish pensions provider, saw total returns fall from 3.1% in the first quarter 2010 to 0.2% this year, whereas its solvency ratio increased from 228% to 240% in the first quarter 2011.

Total assets under management also increased to SEK375bn from SEK348bn.

Skandia, a rival pensions provider, saw a return of 0.21% during the first four months of the year, equalling a 5.3% return over the past 12 months.

Its solvency ratio was 173%, up from 166% in the first quarter 2010.