EUROPE - PIMCO, the US bond specialist, has appointed Storebrand, the Norwegian pension and insurance provider, for the SRI screening of one of its new bond funds, the PIMCO Emerging Markets SRI Bond.

The fund, which will focus on government bonds in emerging markets, will adhere to Storebrand's responsible investment criteria.

Storebrand's ethical criteria are based on UN conventions focusing on serious environmental hazards, controversial arms and human rights issues.

Simultaneously, Storebrand has again qualified for the Dow Jones Sustainability World index (DJSI World).

This means Storebrand is among the top 10% within its industry for sustainability.

Storebrand is the only Nordic organisation within the DJSI World and has qualified since 1999 when the index was first launched.

In other news, Catella Fondförvaltning, a Swedish independent asset management firm, has sold its discretionary institutional business to Söderberg & Partners, a Swedish advisory firm.

The deal, for which details have not been disclosed, comprises three institutional funds with assets under management totalling SEK845m (€91.5m).

For Söderberg & Partners, the acquisition is a way to broaden its offering to institutional clients such as local and regional authorities and foundations where it already has a strong advisory business for clients, with a total of SEK25bn in assets under management.

The asset management business will be separate from the advisory business, with a unique brand.

Meanwhile, AI Pension, the pension fund for architects and engineers, has been hit by a SEK900m fall in profits in the first half, compared with the same period last year.

During the first six months of 2010, the fund made a loss of SEK106m, compared with a profit of SEK821m during the same period 2009. 

Pension fund officials cited technical provisions, which have changed because of the low interest-rate environment, as the chief cause of the performance.

Return on investments totalled 1.75% for the first half compared with 2.4% for the same period last year. 

Hedge funds were the best performer, with 4.2% in the first six months, compared with 5.2% for the first six months of 2009.

And lastly, the number of Swedes wanting to retire early has dropped dramatically over the past four years, according to a survey by Länsförsäkringar, the pension and insurance provider.

Some 47% of Swedes still want to retire before 65, but that is a reduction of 16% compared with 2006.

Mats Wester, pension expert at Länsförsäkringar, believes this is a result of Swedes being increasingly aware their pensions will be significantly lower than their final salaries.

The survey also asked when people actually thought they would retire.

While 47% want to retire before 65, only 20% actually believe they will.

The majority of those wishing to retire early have made some provisions for this through private pensions or saving through banks or funds.