Denmark’s largest labour-market pension fund, Sampension, has hired Jesper Nørgaard away from Nordea Life & Pension to take on the newly-created role of deputy CIO.

Sampension, which managed DKK267bn (€35.9bn) of assets at the end of 2016, is expanding its investment department since merging two smaller pension funds from the now-defunct Unipension administrative alliance into its operation a year ago.

Hasse Jørgensen, chief executive of Sampension, said: “We are very pleased to have hired someone with Jesper’s experience and skills as well as his strong professional and management profile.”

Altogether, Nørgaard has worked at Nordea Life & Pension, part of banking group Nordea, since 2004. He has been group CIO for nine years.

Sampension said that in creating the new deputy CIO position, it was bolstering its investment department strategically as well as in terms of management.

The department, which currently consists of 28 staff and is led by CIO Henrik Olejasz Larsen, has grown because Sampension took over the management of The Pension Fund for Agricultural Academics and Veterinary Surgeons (PJD) and The Architects’ Pension Fund with effect from 1 January 2017.

On top of these new inclusions, the department has been dealing with an increase in complexity due to tighter regulation, more focus on responsible investments and more investment tasks that have been brought in-house from external managers, Sampension said.

Olejasz Larsen told IPE that although Sampension has succeeded to some extent in merging the investments of the two incoming pension funds with its existing portfolio – using common “building blocks” in the form of Sampension’s mutual funds – the newcomers still require extra work from the investment department.

“There are some things we have to do three times – for instance, getting regulatory approval – and when we engage with other financial institutions they have obligations to know their client,” he said. “All these things stem from the fact the pension funds are not fully merged, but are still separate legal entities.”

The primary reason Nørgaard’s new role was Sampension’s increased need for external communication regarding its investments, Olejasz Larsen said.

“There is a need for more external communication with stakeholders, the boards of the new pension funds as well as the public, and this is all demanding management time,” he added.

Sampension has been bringing more of its alternatives investment such as private equity, forestry and international real estate in-house since the global financial crisis, he said.

Meanwhile, Nordea Life & Pensions has appointed Erik Callert – currently head of investment sourcing and product coordination – as acting group CIO.

Nørgaard will remain officially employed at the company until 31 March, and is currently still working at the firm to facilitate a smooth handover, a spokesman said. Nørgaard will go on leave on 1 February.

Nordea Life & Pension lost the CIO of its Danish operation to a labour-market pension fund last year as Anders Schelde moved to become CIO of MP Pension, the pension fund for academic public sector staff.