Sampension, The Linde Group, USS, bfinance, CAPZA, Willis Towers Watson, APG, MSD, KPS, TOBAM, RAM AI, Kempen, S&V, Octopus, Neuberger Berman

Sampension – Torbjørn Lange has been appointed by Danish pension fund Sampension as its new head of real estate and infrastructure. He will be replacing Søren Vendelbo Jacobsen who was recently hired by Nordic residential property firm Heimstaden as co-CIO – a role he is due to start on 1 February. Until the end of December, Lange was managing director of corporate finance at Carnegie Investment Banking, having been in the job since October 2011, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, his professional roles have included that of senior associate, corporate finance, at Handelsbanken Capital Markets and financial journalist on Danish daily Berlingske Tidende Business.

The Linde GroupChristoph Schlegel has left the international gases and engineering group, where he was in charge of investments for its global pension plans. According to his LinkedIn profile he left at the end of December, and is now chief investment officer at Stella Family Office in Munich. Schlegel, who spoke to IPE in 2015 about the pension investments approach at Linde, joined the company in 2008 after serving as head of asset and risk managment for corporate pensions at Siemens. A spokesman for Linde Group did not provide further information.

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)Dame Katharine Barker will take over from Sir David Eastwood as chair of the UK’s largest pension fund when the latter retires from the trustee board in August, USS has announced.

Barker has had a high profile career, which includes positions such as chief economic adviser to the Confederation of British Industry and membership of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. This in combination with her experience of working with high education institutions “make her ideal to lead USS in its mission,” the £68bn pension fund said. She has also been chair of the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme.

Eastwood has been on the trustee board since September 2009 and chair since April 2015, a period that has seen considerable turbulence over USS in relation to the defined benefit section and an as yet unresolved conflict between the trustees, the University and College Union, and the employers’ representative body, Universities UK. 

Barker said: “It is a real privilege to be invited to take up this role. I am well aware of just how important this pension scheme is to university staff past and present. In addition, the performance of the scheme and its effective management is significant for much of the university sector.”

bfinance – Trevor Castledine, a former investment professional in the UK’s lobal government pension scheme (LGPS), has joined the investment consultancy as senior director, private markets. Castledine was formerly deputy CIO and private credit investment director at the Local Pensions Partnership, the asset pooling vehicle set up by the London Pension Fund Authority and Lancashire County Pension Fund, where he was previously the deputy CIO.

bfinance’s private markets business has been growing rapidly, and now accounts for more than 30% of all project work executed by the consultancy.

Willis Towers Watson (WTW) – Matilda Bjerndell has been appointed senior consultant at WTW, representing the firm’s risk and analytics services and delivery in Sweden, as part of its Nordic practice. She was most recently chief executive office of the staff health and wellbeing tech start up Wellify. Bjerndell, described by her new employer as a specialist in enterprise risk management and business continuity management, has previously worked as group risk manager at entertainment group MTG and risk manager at state-owned gambling firm Svenska Spel. She started work at WTW’s Stockholm office on 13 January.

APG – The €534bn Dutch asset manager has appointed Marjolein de Jongh as managing director for strategy and change, responsible for elaborating and implementing vision, strategy and long-term goals. De Jongh will directly report to executive trustee Francine van Dierendonck. APG said de Jongh has ample experience of large-scale strategy projects and transformation in the banking sector, while working at Royal Bank of Scotland, ING and Standard Chartered Bank in the past 15 years. She joins from HSBC, where she was global head of trade transformation.

MSDLouis Eilers has started as new chair of the €3.2bn Dutch pension fund of pharmaceutical MSD. He succeeded Frank Mattijssen, who left after 12 years at the helm. Eilers has been a board member since 2014.

KPSAlfred Kool has taken over the role of chair of the Dutch association of pension specialists (KPS) from Hedwig Peters. Kool, who had been a trustee since 2014, is an independent adviser on strategic pension communication and governance. Previous positions include senior consultant and strategist at Willis Towers Watson and director for corporate communication at PGGM before it was renamed as PFZW in 2008.

TOBAM – Tatjana Puhan has been appointed deputy CIO at the French asset manager. She joins from Swiss Life Asset Managers, where she was head of equity and asset allocation. She is also a lecturer in finance at the University of Mannheim and an associated researcher of the Hamburg Financial Research Center.

Yves Choueifaty, president and CIO at TOBAM, said Puhan “brings substantial knowledge to this role, with her experience in leading and developing research-driven systematic and quantitative investment strategies particularly aligned with TOBAM’s core activities.”

RAM Active Investments – The systematic asset manager has gained natural language processing expertise by appointing Tian Guo as a senior data scientist. He joins from ETH Zürich where he was a post doc scientist from 2017 until 2019, working on projects related to interpretable deep learning, natural language processing, automated machine learning, multi-task learning and transfer learning. From 2015 to 2017 he was a doctoral research assistant at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne working on neural networks over temporal data, streaming data mining and distributed machine learning.

Kempen Capital Management – Kempen has hired Anne Mei Poppe as alternative investment specialist from Dutch asset management and direct lending firm Dynamic Credit, where she shared responsibility for alternative fixed income sales and client management for the past three years. Before that she worked as a senior financial services advisor at EY after starting her career at Heineken and BinckBank.

At Kempen she will focus on the growing demand from international institutional investors, wealth managers and family offices for alternative investment strategies.

S&V/AethiQsFrank Verschuren, partner at Sprenkels & Verschuren, has left the Dutch consultancy, which he co-founded in 2007. He left S&V to join new consultancy AethiQs, together with his son Steven Verschuren and colleagues Albert Smolenaers, Luuk Smolenaers, Kristle Jessurun, Leendert de Rijke and Aron Jeurninck.

Steven Verschuren had been a consultant and partner at S&V since 2007. Albert Smolenaers had also been a partner for 13 years, whereas Luuk Smolenaers joined the company as a junior consultant in 2018. Jessurun joined in 2012 as a legal consultant after a three-year period at Willis Towers Watson. De Rijke had been a risk management consultant at S&V since 2016. Jeurninck was employed as a consultant during the past three years. Ruud Sprenkels, co-founder and co-owner of S&V made clear that the seven had parted in an amicle way and added that the firm’s name would remain unchanged.

AethiQs focuses on “socially relevant and niche sectors”, including the pensions industry. Albert Smolenaers has recently been hired by the €10bn occupational pension fund for GPs (SPH) to guide the process of developing new pension arrangements.

Octopus Group – Deniz Sevincer and Mark Williams have been appointed as co-heads of institutional funds at Octopus Group. They will be jointly responsible for managing Octopus’ institutional strategy to help assist institutions with their allocations to alternatives worldwide.

Sevincer joined Octopus in May 2014, working on institutional fundraising and strategic acquisitions in the renewables team, before becoming director of project management in the institutional funds team in January 2018. In his new role, he will oversee the execution of fundraises, from product development to investor onboarding.

Williams joined Octopus in 2011 and has held various roles including head of strategic partnerships. He will oversee Octopus’ fundraising strategy, identifying new investors and developing relationships for new fundraises.

Sevincer said: “The appetite for impactful investment opportunities amongst institutional investors is growing, shown by our recent £185m mandate with the National Grid UK Pension Scheme to invest into renewable energy assets. I’m looking forward to finding new solutions across all of our businesses that will help institutions drive change.”

Neuberger Berman – Emelie Albeck, relationship manager at Neuberger Berman for the Nordics, relocated to Stockholm from London on 2 January as the firm opened an office in the Swedish capital – its first in the Nordic region. Dik van Lomwel, head of EMEA and Latin America at the investment management firm, said adding the new office was “a natural evolution reflecting the growth of our business in the region”.

CAPZA – Formerly known as Capzanine, the small and mid-cap focussed private investment platform, has appointed Caroline Abensour as head of investor relations. It also announced the forthcoming arrival of Stefan Arneth as sales manager for the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). Abensour took up her new position in November 2019 and Arneth will join in February.

Abensour was managing director at Chenavari in London where she was in charge of business development in the Nordic countries, the UK, Switzerland and Germany. Prior to that, she spent more than 10 years in various sales management positions at Oakley Capital, Dresdner Kleinwort and BNP Paribas. Before joining CAPZA, Arneth spent many years as head of institutional clients, successfully developing third-party business for MEAG, the asset manager of Munich Re and ERGO.

The company is majority owned by its teams and supported by the AXA Group.