UK – The 1.6 billion pound (2.2 billion euro) common pension investment fund of logistics firm Exel has ended a five-year relationship with Pictet Asset Management.

Exel has awarded a 115 million pound (161 million euro) pan-European equities mandate to State Street Global Advisors, ousting the Swiss firm.

“The trustees thought it was time for a change,” said Jimmy Walker, pensions manager of the Exel Retirement Plan and secretary of the Exel Pensions Investment Fund. He declined to be more specific about the reasons for dropping Pictet. The relationship began in 1998, Walker said.

Pictet’s head of corporate communications, Marie-Hélène Hancock, had no immediate comment.

Walker said Exel did not go through the “charade” of a beauty parade of managers. He said it chose SSGA on the advice of its consultant, Mercer.

SSGA marketing director Kanesh Lakhani said: “This mandate is further testament to our growing success in expanding our active equity business in the UK.”

Lakhani added that the mandate aims to outperform the pan-European equity benchmark by two percent.

In March Exel said that it had a surplus in its defined benefit schemes as at the end of December 2002 of 59 million pounds under the FRS17 accounting standard - down from 491 million at the end of 2001.

It is currently undergoing a review of its schemes – which it says should determine whether it can continue its pension contribution holiday.